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Press Release – GMCR joins forces with the Big Clean Switch

New project could save residents hundreds of pounds a year while supporting local renewable energy schemes

  • A typical home can save over £300 a year switching to the cheapest green tariff
  • The scheme will also raise money for local renewable energy projects
  • Greater Manchester Community Renewables is one of four projects in national pilot


180214 - GMCR - Email header

A new project is hoping to raise money for local renewable energy schemes whilst saving residents hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills.

A typical home can save more than £300 a year switching to the cheapest green tariffs.[i]

Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR), the group behind the scheme, says it wants to make it as easy as possible for residents to switch to renewable electricity – and save money in the process.

The project has established a dedicated website – – where residents can compare the price of different renewable tariffs. [ii] The organisers claim it takes less than 10 minutes to get a quote and switch.

As well as helping local residents to save money, the project will raise cash for local renewable electricity projects by channelling 25% of the commission paid by green suppliers back to GMCR.[iii] GMCR director Kate Eldridge says the money will be used to help put solar panels on more local schools.

Eldridge said, “Switching to renewable electricity is a great way to help tackle climate change, but most people don’t realise it could also save them money.”

GMCR already operates a number of local green energy projects, which retain the profits from generating renewable energy within the community.[iv] Now they want to help people switch to renewable electricity providers in their own homes.

For an average home in Greater Manchester, the cheapest green tariffs available through the campaign are now within £15 to £25 of the very cheapest tariffs on the market, and hundreds of pounds cheaper than the average standard tariff with one of the country’s Big Six suppliers.[v] Recent Ofgem figures show 60% of UK homes are on a default variable tariff.[vi]

GMCR is one of four community projects taking part in a national pilot which aims to demonstrate the power of community groups as a positive force for change. Another Greater Manchester group – Oldham Community Power – is also taking part.

The national scheme is a partnership between the Big Clean Switch campaign[vii] and Project Dirt[viii], an umbrella organisation for community projects.

The Big Clean Switch is already working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, but organisers say that while that project communicates through councils and local businesses, the new scheme is designed to work at a local level.

Big Clean Switch director Jon Fletcher said, “Community projects like GMCR have a track record in talking to local residents about environmental issues. Who better to help people save money by switching to renewable electricity?”

If successful, the organisers hope the model can be replicated in towns and cities across the country.


BBC stall 600x450


[i] Typical saving calculated on 6 February 2018 by comparing an average usage dual fuel household on a Big Six Standard Variable Tariff (£1,135) with the cheapest tariff supplying 100% renewable electricity available through the Big Clean Switch website (£834). All prices are for a single rate meter paying by monthly direct debit, with prices averaged across all regions of England, Scotland and Wales. Average usage as defined by Ofgem is 12,000 kWh pa of gas and 3,100 kWh pa of electricity.

[ii] Suppliers offering green tariffs promise that the electricity used by a home will be matched by the same amount of renewable electricity going into the National Grid. Renewable electricity is power sourced from the sun, wind, water (rivers, waves and tides) and some biofuels.

[iii] Every time someone switches energy supplier through this campaign, the supplier pays Big Clean Switch a commission. This doesn’t affect the tariffs offered, which are the same price or cheaper as you’d find on the suppliers’ own websites. Big Clean Switch uses some of the money to help fund its national campaign, and shares some with its delivery partners.


[v] The cheapest open market tariff for a Greater Manchester postcode on 13 February 2018 was £811 a year for a medium consumption dual fuel household on a single rate meter paying by monthly direct debit. This compares with £828 a year for the cheapest comparable tariff available through the Big Clean Switch.

[vi] Ofgem figures sourced from its 2017 State of the Market Report:

[vii] Big Clean Switch is part of Brakkn Ltd, a ‘profit with purpose’ company with a commitment to channel part of its profits to good causes both through the commission it shares with partners and through a corporate commitment to give at least 5% of its remaining profit to climate related causes.

[viii] Project Dirt is the UK’s most active network connecting and resourcing community projects. It receives 8% of the commission paid by suppliers when someone switches, after the costs of processing the switch have been deducted.

Naturesave gives GMCR grant for new site feasibility work

GMCR is planning a further round of solar installations for summer 2018. Before we can launch a community share offer to raise money for more solar installations, we need to check that the sites are suitable e.g. by commissioning a structural survey of the roof, and doing legal due diligence on the properties before we enter into a lease of the roof.

We would like to thank The Naturesave Trust for providing a grant of £1,500 towards these development costs, so that more schools in Salford can benefit from solar panels. 

If you’re interested in following the development of the new sites, or would like to receive a copy of GMCR’s new share offer when it is published, please get in touch or sign up for our newsletter on our home page.

You can find out more about The Naturesave Trust at their website:  Environmental, Conservation and Community Renewable Energy Grants provided by the Naturesave Trust


Naturesave logo

Autumn Update

Solar Performance
Exciting News! Generation meter readings taken towards the end of the September 2017 show total solar generation of over 100 MWh since installation across the four sites!

Other news
We spoke at a European Energy Democracy convergence about how we used community shares to raise funds to install solar panels.  They have made a great video about the event.

We also took part in a stakeholder panel on sustainability for Electricity North West (ENW).  ENW look after the electricity cables in the North West area.  They shared updates about the roll out of Smart Meters, and a project they are planning to help people use electricity more efficiently (so that ENW don’t have to upgrade cables to meet increasing demand for electricity).  Good to see they have an incentive to help people look after the environment and their bills!

Summer Update

Fiddlers Lane

It’s official!

The solar installation on the roof of Fiddlers Lane Primary School now belongs to GMCR.

You may recall that GMCR lent Moss Community Energy the money to install solar panels at Fiddlers Lane Primary School. It was always their intention to transfer the site to GMCR and we are pleased to confirm that all the paperwork was completed by GMCR, Moss Community Energy, the school and Salford City Council with effect from 20 June. It’s great that Fiddlers Lane is now formally a GMCR partner.

Welcome Fiddlers Lane!


Solar Performance

It was exciting to see the solar panels working well on the sunny days we had in June and as we approached the longest day of the year. If you have been following us on social media, you will have seen our record day so far…

Tweet from 20 June

Generation meter readings taken towards the end of the June 2017 show total generation of 59,657kWh since installation across the four sites, almost triple the amount generated towards the end of March. With The Fuse now generating and the longer days, it has made a big difference! Maybe we’ll be celebrating 100 MWh later this year?

We are working with Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN) to amplify the educational benefits of the solar panels on our school sites. In June, MEEN supported Key Stage 1 children at Fiddlers Lane Primary School take part in an environment-themed assembly.

June also saw the start of Community Energy Fortnight, and we took part in a few of the events, including the Community Energy national conference which was held in Manchester this year.

Could you be our Finance Director?

Greater Manchester Community Renewables Ltd is a volunteer led community business which has installed solar panels on three schools and a community centre in our area. We help our site partners save money on their energy bills, whilst also reducing carbon emissions and generating a community fund from our profits to spend on further eco-friendly projects around the sites.

We are recruiting a volunteer Finance Director to strengthen our Board. The right candidate will have a strong finance background and be enthusiastic about helping their community and the environment.

While our day to day bookkeeping is outsourced, this will be a hands on role, as we explore how we can grow. The Board meets once a month either in person or by Skype but this could change depending on circumstances. We also appreciate that when taking on a volunteer role, real life can take over from time to time!

You can find out more about GMCR on our website including our 2016 share offer, which sets out our 20 year financial model. If you are interested, please email

Spring update

Just a quick update for you all on progress so far this year…


As you may recall, our three school sites were all switched on and our solar arrays were generating last year, but additional work was required to upgrade the substation at The Fuse before we could switch on that installation.  After a long delay at Electricity North West (ENW), we escalated the issue and the work was finally completed and the installation switched on in February.

The Fuse - April 2017 - Photo 1 - 600x450

The Fuse, Partington

Solar Performance

We were delighted to receive our first Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payments last month for the solar electricity we generated in 2016 – it was great to get confirmation that our FiT accounts had been set up properly and to see some income coming into our bank account!

Generation meter readings taken towards the end of March showed total generation to date of 19,976 kWh – so even in the dark and gloomy winter months and with our largest array at The Fuse only coming online in February, our panels have still already generated enough electricity to power 5 average homes for a year and save over 8 tonnes of CO2!


Since our opening event in Irlam, we’ve given a couple more talks; at Bury Green Party and at Manchester Friends of the Earth for their Valentine’s Day “Show the Love” meeting, where we were all showing our love for renewables (see photo below).  We also had a stall at the Darwin Day event organised by the Greater Manchester Humanists, where we met Paul and Eva (a.k.a. Polyp and Schlunke), the author-illustrators of children’s book, Little Worm’s Big Question.

Show the Love

We’ve also helped with a couple of research projects, including a cross European community energy programme, and attended the latest Electricity North West Sustainability Advisory Panel, at which we heard about the latest challenges for the grid due to the greater demands placed on it by both renewable energy generation and increased electricity use, e.g. electric vehicles.

Celebrating in Irlam

GMCR directors, members and volunteers were joined by staff, children and parents from both Fiddlers Lane Primary School and Irlam Primary School, and the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, for the opening ceremony of our Irlam sites earlier this week.

Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford, with pupils from Irlam Primary School and Fiddlers Lane Primary School



Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford (centre), with Sandra Dutson, GMCR member and volunteer, Sheila Bannon and Ali Abbas, volunteer and Director, Ben Nuttall, Director of NPS Solar and pupils from Irlam Primary School and Fiddlers Lane Primary School


Ann McQuirk, Business Manager and Ian Whitehouse, Building Manager at Fiddlers Lane Primary School introduce their school presentation

Fiddlers Lane presentation 490

Pupils from Irlam Primary school talk about eco-projects at their school


No celebration would be complete without a cake.




The dark winter nights may be drawing in, but there will be a slice of sunshine at the official launch of a community solar scheme for two Salford schools.

On Monday 21st November at 12:30pm at Hamilton Davies House on Liverpool Road, Irlam, the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, will launch the scheme which has seen almost 60kW of solar panels installed on Irlam and Fiddlers Lane Primary Schools by a local renewable energy society, Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR). The funding for the scheme was raised from local people who bought shares in GMCR, and will help the two schools save money on their electricity bills.

Elaine Darwin, Head Teacher at Irlam Primary School, said, “We are absolutely delighted with the solar panels, which were installed free of charge by GMCR.  Renewable energy spans many aspects of the school curriculum and the solar installation helps to bring this to life – the pupils loved the assembly a couple of weeks ago when the installer explained how the panels were installed.”

Ann McQuirk, Business Manager at Fiddlers Lane Primary School, said, “We were pleased to be able to use our roof to support this project.  Not only will it save us a few pounds on our electricity bills which we can spend on education instead, it will also support the wider community through the profits it generates. ”

The Mayor will launch the scheme with the cutting of a large cake in the shape of the sun. Supported by Salford City Council, it is hoped that there will be future phases of the scheme despite cuts to Government support for solar power.

The Mayor Paul Dennett said, “I am delighted to be able to launch this scheme, which I hope will be the first of many similar schemes here in Salford. Putting the community at the heart of our future energy supply will be absolutely essential in ensuring a quality environment for our children’s future.”

The solar installations were completed over the summer holidays by Oldham based electrical firm, NPS Solar.  Ben Nuttall, Director, said “NPS Solar is proud to have won the contract to work on this community energy project.  Not only will installing solar panels generate more green electricity, it will also generate awareness of the benefits of renewable energy within the local community.”

“We are so grateful for the support of the schools, the Council and, of course, our members who invested.” said Kate Eldridge, a Director of GMCR. “Together we have delivered a project which will not only help to tackle climate change but will also benefit the community and help the next generation learn about solar power.”


Note to editors

Greater Manchester Community Renewables Limited (GMCR) is a community benefit society, set up and run by volunteers to install community-owned renewable energy across Greater Manchester.

GMCR has raised £186,000 through a community share offer, funding the installation of solar panels at three schools in Salford, (Irlam Primary School, Fiddlers Lane Primary School and Primrose Hill Primary School) and a community hub in Trafford (The Fuse, Partington).

GMCR projects that overall it will

  • Save 50 tonnes carbon dioxide in the first year of operation
  • Over 20 years, provide combined energy bill savings of almost £50,000 to the sites
  • Generate a total Community Fund of over £50,000 to be used in the areas around the sites for future eco-friendly initiatives

For more information, see:

Four installations completed!

We have completed four solar installations over the summer holidays and have submitted the Feed-in Tariff applications.

Fiddlers Lane Primary School – installed in partnership with Moss Community Energy


Primrose Hill Primary School, Salford


Irlam Primary School


The Fuse, Partington


Panels are going up on our sites

Over the summer holidays our installers have been hard at work installing panels. Here are some photos of the first installations:

Solar panels on a roof

Solar panels and the sunshine

Solar panels on a roof