Surrey Community Energy Projects

Surrey County Council (SCC) has teamed up with Community Energy South (CES) to deliver community energy generation projects across the county.

With the goal of creating a Community Benefit Society (CBS) that will create a pipeline of potential clean energy generation sites across the county, we are aiming to deliver one of these projects within 12 months – and we want the help of our communities to do this!

The project delivers multiple benefits and opportunities for Surrey's residents, businesses and charities, including:

  • Below-grid-price energy for the residents, businesses and charities involved in a project
  • The opportunity for ethical investment within Surrey, with an expected annual return on investment plus full capital repayment long term
  • Opportunities for upskilling and job creation within the energy sector
  • Creation of projects to support SCC's strategic priority of a sustainable economy
  • Genuine increased energy security and independence through local energy generation - which cannot be gained from local oil or gas extraction due to the nature of international energy markets
  • Reduced residential emissions to help achieve SCC's strategic priority for Surrey's Greener Future

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How community energy projects work

This is a simplified version of how community energy projects provide a win-win collaboration for the stakeholders involved:

SCC and CES will help a collection of Surrey residents to form a community benefit society (a form of co-op, with either local or UK-wide investors). The group will identify sites for energy generation, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or community heat networks, which deliver the benefits listed above. Once feasible sites are agreed, a lease agreement is signed with the landowner / asset holder for £1 per annum. Investment is then invited for equipment and running costs which can be done by the society, or via existing organisations' with a membership of ready and willing investors. The clean energy generated on site is purchased by the occupants using the energy, at a lower-than-grid price. At the end of projects like these, the solar equipment is usually donated to the site. Investors are paid back periodically or at the end of the long-term lease. While investments are at risk, the society will be registered by the Financial Conduct Authority, annual accounts are audited and everyone involved has the right to follow progress, check accounts and hold equal votes. There are several hundred organisations like this across the UK and it's a very collaborative and sharing sector. Everybody wins!

During the initial phase of this project, we are looking for Surrey residents to help us in 2 ways:

Help us identify sites for community energy projects

Although we aim to create a varied pipeline of projects, our initial goal is to deliver either a rooftop or ground-mount solar project. This type of project presents the best learning experience for a society new to energy generation projects and will allow us to maximise the expertise of CES during the contract period.

The ideal site will have:

  • High on-site demand for energy (around 70% of the energy generated should be used on site)
  • A large simple rooftop in good state of repair or adjacent ground space (minimum tennis court size)
  • A freeholder willing to lease the roof / land for up to 20 years, and a tenant who will benefit from energy pricing lower than grid price
  • No problematic issues with shading from tall buildings, trees bridges etc, and no obvious planning permission issues

If you have a proposed site for a community energy project, please complete the Site identification form.

Become a founder member of the community benefit society

As a director:

We need 8 to10 passionate and committed individuals to become volunteer society directors to drive this project forward. Expected requirements of the group: 1 to 5 hours per week of volunteer time, skills in project management, financial planning, legal advice, electrical and energy systems, energy production, monitoring, admin, marketing and more. Directors must be over 18 years of age and will be tasked with:

  • Creating the governance structure and ensuring compliance with rules and regulations
  • Deciding on projects and how they are prioritised
  • Raising investment and managing finances
  • Delivery and management of the projects
  • Personal liability of £1 maximum (which is the membership fee along with everyone else)

If you wish to apply to become a Founder Member, please complete the Site identification form.

As part of the wider advisory group:

Projects will need a great deal of wider support within all of the skill areas mentioned above, especially if those core skills are not available within the director group.

We have the experience and expertise of Community Energy South to support the society, so if you are very interested but are worried about a lack of experience, please do email us to chat. Community Energy England was created to spread knowledge and upskill people into energy projects, so remember that many people started in your position!

CES and SCC will be supporting this project by:

  1. Recruiting directors and forming and incorporating the Community Benefit Society
  2. Support with finding viable projects and local stakeholders
  3. Collaborating and communicating the needs of local residents and stakeholders, to ensure investment is raised, projects are designed for maximum benefit, and communities are empowered to act
  4. Engaging with investors to explain how the finances work and how payback from revenue generated by the sale of energy is managed and paid
  5. Providing high level feasibility studies on the sites prioritised by the directors
  6. Providing upskilling, training, and guidance of the full team to develop policies and procedures and deliver technical requirements

To find out more please get in contact via if you:

  • Require further information
  • Are a landowner with a potential site for energy generation
  • Are looking to invest in clean energy projects in Surrey

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