Hackney Energy works with residents to build community-owned solar power.
Photo: Andy Aitchison/Ashden
Hackney Energy is a local energy advocacy group that aims to create renewable energy and low-carbon projects that benefit the Hackney community.
In 2015, the first community owned solar project in Hackney went live in Banister House estate. This is the UK’s largest community energy project on social housing. Hackney Energy worked with Repowering London to develop this project alongside residents of the estate.
Banister House Solar now generates roughly enough energy to power 38 Banister flats for a year. This energy powers the communal areas of the estate, and surplus energy is sold back to the grid.
The Banister House project is run as a co-operative with four local directors from the estate. The installation gave paid employment and work experience to 30 local young people. Individuals can buy shares in the project, with a discounted rate for estate residents. Shareholders have a say in how the project is run and receive around 4% interest on their investment a year. Other profits are put into the Banister House Community Fund for fuel poverty initiatives and youth activities on the estate.
Co-director Wilhelmina Stewart told Far Nearer: “It’s amazing when you can just put it through the meter and feed it through the grid. Especially because the land in London is taken up by development, so we don’t have space for power stations. Now we have these little battery cells that sit on top of the roof sending power to the grid and making money for the community.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Finance a Green New Deal
Government-led investment is vital – here are five ways to pay.
Introduce a Sustainable Economy Act
Climate change laws should be extended to set binding targets to protect all aspects of our environment.