News

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 info@gmcr.org.uk

Spring update

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

Operations

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.

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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!

Engagement

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

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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

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

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

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No celebration would be complete without a cake.

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PRESS RELEASE – SUNSHINE ON A RAINY DAY AS IRLAM SOLAR SCHEME IS LAUNCHED

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.”

ENDS

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: http://www.gmcr.org.uk

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

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Primrose Hill Primary School, Salford

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Irlam Primary School

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The Fuse, Partington

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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

It’s all systems go!

After a hectic few weeks of negotiations, we finally got the leases signed on Friday!

This was a crucial step as it meant that we could issue shares and start spending the money that our members have invested.

We wasted no time in making the first payment to our installer, NPS Solar, who are lined up to start work on the first installation next week.

We now have less than two months remaining to install panels on our four sites to meet that all important Feed-in Tariff deadline of 29 September 2016.

So while we’ve reached an important milestone, there is still lots to do before the celebrations can begin!

 

Getting closer…

Just a quick note to let you know where we’re up to with the leases for our solar project.

We’ve made good progress since our last update:

  • We reached an agreement with Salford City Council today on the content of the leases for the schools, and the Mayor has given his authorisation for the leases to be signed.
  • The final draft of the lease for The Fuse is being prepared, and is awaiting the consent it needs from a third party before it can be signed off.

While we’re getting closer, the leases haven’t been signed on the dotted line yet and so we haven’t released the funds from our investors today – as outlined in our share offer, we will only do so when the agreements have been secured.

Thanks for bearing with us, and we’ll update you again as soon as we have any more news.

We did it!

We’re delighted to announce that we reached our Optimum Share Offer target of £186,000 on Tuesday morning and we have therefore closed the Share Offer to new applications.

Thanks so much to everyone who has invested and all of you who made the time to promote the project and share it with your contacts!

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What happens next?

We’re still working hard to finalise the legal agreements we need to put in place before we can release the funds, order the equipment and start the installations.

We’ll update you again soon…

 

In sight of the finish line…

Fundraising

Since our last update at the end of June, the response has been amazing!

We rocketed past the £140,000 minimum target needed to install solar panels on three sites – Primrose Hill Primary School in Ordsall, Irlam Primary School and The Fuse in Partington – and we’re now closing in on our optimum target of £186,000, which would enable us to fund panels at Fiddlers Lane in Irlam too.

The total investment pledged to date is over £173,000, and we’ve decided to extend the closing date a bit further to ensure that Fiddlers Lane doesn’t miss out – check out our Crowdfunder page to see how we’re getting on!

Recent activity

We’ve been working closely with our partners at Salford City Council and The Fuse on the leases and electricity supply agreements to make sure we have the legal permissions to install the panels and provide our electricity to the sites at a discounted price.

We have also kept up the promotional work with talks at the “No Planet B” festival event organised by Bolton Friends of the Earth, and stalls in Altrincham and at a festival on Kersal Moor in Salford.

Altrincham

Next steps

We’re looking forward to concluding the legal documents so we can accept the first £140,000 of pledges and start the installation process.

In the meantime, we have a little more time to continue our fundraising for the solar panels at Fiddlers Lane Primary School, the fourth site which we’re working on with Moss Community Energy.

If you know anyone who’s been thinking of investing, please do remind them to get their application in via our Crowdfunder page before it’s too late!