The multi-school development – which is in keeping with the Government’s policies on the switch to clean energy within educational establishments – involves no capital outlay on the part of the schools. It allows the schools to buy the power generated on site at a heavily discounted rate, delivering savings of circa £1.4m on their electricity bills, and a reduction of some 561 metric tonnes of carbon in the process.
Secured Energy Bonds plc (SEB), which is a subsidiary of global diversified clean energy company CBD Energy Limited, is set to install more than 1.25mWp in the first round of investment, with announcements regarding further school developments likely to follow. The sites were procured in partnership with leading project development manager and originator Solar Cells Ltd.
Commenting on the commission, Chris Hall, business development executive and spokesperson for Solar Cells Ltd, said: “The UK has developed just 2.5GW of solar capacity to date, against a government target of 20GW by 2020, and with bank loans and other more traditional forms of finance still proving hard to come by, and prospective clients struggling with a host of spending priorities, the installation of a solar array will seem prohibitively high, indeed to many a luxury. It is for that very reason that we developed our free solar power initiative, and we are delighted to have secured this first round of development for our client Secured Energy Bonds plc.
“The Company absorbs absolutely all of the costs involved in the installation, and the initiative is available to all manner of organisations able to offer a suitable rooftop site, in both the public sector and business – in agriculture, industry and many other fields. It means all sorts of organisations can enjoy the full range of benefits which come with solar power, reducing their energy bills while playing their part in the switch to cleaner energy sources.
“The financial model that we have constructed, to develop solar projects on large non-domestic sites is, we believe, a great addition in this growing market, as capital outlay, return over the investment period, and counterparty risk have each presented significant hurdles in developing sites in recent years. The Secured Energy Bonds initiative makes solar development truly accessible.”
Chris Hall’s sentiments are echoed by SEB chairman, Gerry McGowan: “Growing numbers recognise the need to develop new, cleaner energy sources, and the savings made by installing solar helps to reduce overheads for schools and businesses alike.
“Solar power is beneficial for both the local economy and the economy at large, and it is for that reason that we established Secured Energy Bonds plc and began marketing Energy Bonds, which represent an excellent opportunity for people to make a socially responsible investment in new green energy projects, and to play their part in building a greener, cleaner future.”
The education sector is likely to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of SEB’s programme of investments as school budgets are tight and a shorter term view needs to be taken on investments. With the removal of counterparty risk and a highly competitive Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), there are opportunities across all sectors to benefit from free rooftop solar installations.
By way of example, a mid-sized rooftop of around 1600sqm of usable space – consuming a national average production level (950kWp/kWh) – could save well in excess of £400,000 over the course of the lease. The flexibility of its structure can be beneficial to landlords and tenants alike, and with a 10-year option due for imminent release, the options across all manner of sectors are numerous.
“It’s important to understand what organisations are looking for when structuring a product that speaks to both their corporate social responsibility and cost saving initiatives,” said Chris Hall, “and coupling a product that is both free but fully supported and maintained will stand us in good stead going forward.”