As you may be aware, the closing date for our share offer is tomorrow (Sunday 16 July). We had extended it by a few days while we were waiting for some of the permissions we need and it seems to have come round quickly!
We’ve had some good news this week in relation to permissions: ✅ Prior approval from the local planning authority ✅ Grid connection offer from Electricity North West, so we can export up to 200kW from the site if it’s not needed by the school
We’re in dialogue with the Department for Education about the lease of the roof airspace above the school, alongside the school and both parties’ solicitors.
We’ve raised £190,100 so far – this is more than we’ve ever raised in a single share offer! Thanks to everyone who has invested.
If we can get to £225,000, we can use some GMCR reserves and the new shares to install solar panels on two buildings at the school plus a further 75kW on a third roof area. There is room for more on that roof, so if we beat that target, even better!
We’ll keep you updated on how things go but if you are planning to invest and haven’t done so yet, now is the time!
We’ve reached a crucial time for our project to install a solar array at Wellington School. We continue to wait for the planning permission, grid connection consent and Department for Education (DfE) approval. We know the relevant authorities are looking at our applications, but we haven’t had their formal responses yet.
As you know, we extended the share offer period until Sunday 16 July to collect more investment while we wait for those permissions to come through. We spent the weekend at the Sustainability Show where it was a pleasure to talk to like minded people about the project. We had lots of volunteers helping out on the day and making further offers to support us – thank you!
We’ve raised £163,700 so far and have 6 days to go… Let’s keep spreading the word so we can get as many panels on the school roof as we can! All the details of the share offer together with the online application form can be found on our Invest page.
It’s been a busy week! We’ve been to 8 events spreading the word about our project to install solar panels at Wellington School since our update last Monday.
We’re proud of GMCR and love telling people about the benefits solar panels will bring to Wellington School and the environment. We also love to quote achievements from our existing sites, such as how many cups of tea we could have made with the energy generated so far (70 million!) and how much our partners have saved on their bills (£70,000). And while we hope people will invest to help the community, mentioning the 5% share interest and capital repayment over 10 years emphasises that we’re seeking investment rather than donations.
Highlights of our week included meeting the Wellington School eco-committee, and the photo from that day was published in the Manchester Evening News and in Altrincham Today. Ali was on BBC Radio Manchester (from 22 minutes), Kate was on That’s Manchester TV, and we’ve been to the school open day (pictured below) and to Timperley Sports Club.
We’ve raised £115,700 so far, so close to our Minimum target of £120,000! Can you help us get there? Find out how on our Invest page.
If we do make our minimum target, we won’t be stopping there. If we can make it to £175,000, we’ll be able to cover two out of the three roof areas at the school which are suitable for solar panels. So that’s the next milestone on our way to the big target of £350,000.
Next weekend you’ll find us at Altrincham Festival. If anyone wants to come along and help out at our stall, you’d be most welcome as we’ll be there on both Saturday and Sunday from 11am to around 4pm. Please contact us on email@example.com if you can join us.
As you may know, we’re on a mission to raise £350,000 in community investment to fund the installation of solar panels at Wellington School in Timperley. This will save the school money on their electricity bills, meaning they’ll have more to spend on education, as well as reducing their carbon footprint.
The share offer is open to individuals and businesses and the minimum investment is £100. We’re planning to pay annual share interest at 5% from 2025 and repay capital in instalments over 10 years. Please note that these projections are subject to the performance of the Society and capital is at risk.
We’ve been out and about promoting the share offer at a range of events including Didsbury Festival, the Northern Sustainability Summit (pictured below), and the MMU Sustainability Festival, as well as delivering leaflets in the Wellington School neighbourhood.
Thanks so much to everyone who has invested with us! Your support is much appreciated. We’ve raised £48,400 so far, so we’re making good progress towards the Minimum target but still have a long way to go before we reach £350,000!
However, we have plenty more community engagement lined up over the next couple of weeks. We’re meeting the school’s eco-committee today and talking about our project at the school’s upcoming open day, at Timperley Sports Club and at Altrincham Festival.
It’s our most ambitious share offer yet so we’d be really grateful for your help to get the message out to anyone else who might be interested in investing. You can share our posts on social media (on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and download the share offer from our Invest page.
To mark World Environment Day on 5 June, GMCR has launched a share offer to fund the largest community-owned solar array in Greater Manchester.
The solar array at Wellington School in Timperley will cover the school roofs with 946 solar panels and generate enough electricity to make over 16 million cups of tea a year . This will help the school save money on their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR) was set up in 2015 and has over 230 members who have funded solar arrays at eight primary schools in Salford and Bury, and a community centre in Trafford. The solar panels have so far generated enough electricity to charge over 65 million smartphones, saved over £70,000 on their energy bills and prevented 300 tonnes of carbon emissions from polluting power stations. 
Kate Eldridge, Director of GMCR said:
“Today, we’re launching our most ambitious share offer yet to raise £350,000 to fund a solar array at Wellington School.
“Our project has shown that when people come together we can make a real difference to the environment and the local community.
“With your help another school will soon be able to benefit from clean, cheap renewable energy.
“By investing as little as £100, you can support the transition to a sustainable future ”
The community share offer is open to individuals, businesses and organisations. Anyone who buys shares will be eligible for share interest of up to 5% and GMCR aims to repay the shares over the next ten years. Profits are donated to a community fund to support carbon reduction, energy efficiency and environmental education. The share offer is open until 3 July 2023. Those interested in investing should read the Share Offer fully and take appropriate financial advice.
We have lots to update you on since our last newsletter. While our community-owned solar panels have not been at their most productive during the Winter, our volunteers have been busy!
Preparing a new share offer As you may know, our engagement with potential new site partners paused during the pandemic as schools were incredibly busy with managing the day to day impacts of Covid.
However, since then, the sharp increase in electricity prices has prompted a number of schools to contact GMCR to explore how we could support them to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint with solar panels. Conversations have been held with numerous educational and community centres. We’ve also built a positive dialogue with a Solar for GM Faiths project, who we hope to work with in the coming years.
In the meantime, one large secondary school has agreed in principle to partner with us now and so we are preparing for a new share offer this summer. This is a particularly exciting project because:
Installing the maximum number of panels at this site will more than double our solar capacity; and
Raising the funds for this will result in our biggest share offer ever – almost the same as our first three share offers combined!
Solar performance of existing sites In the period January to March 2023, our nine solar arrays generated 36,272 kWh of electricity, enough to make 2 million cups of tea and save over 8 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Our site partners used 31,797 kWh (88% of generation) and collectively saved £6,155 on their electricity bills this quarter.
GMCR Energy Savers In the Winter months, our partner in the GMCR Energy Savers project, the Groundwork Green Doctors, have been supporting households in Salford and Trafford with energy saving advice. We also have some funding from Electricity North West for energy audits at our sites to enable them to understand their energy use and ways to save energy. We have now selected a partner for this work and will be offering the audits to our site partners shortly.
Warm Homes campaign GMCR is supporting Friends of the Earth’s United for Warm Homes campaign. The campaign is calling for a nationwide retrofit programme, a shift from fossil fuels to renewables, and urgent financial support for people struggling with their energy bills.
If you’d like to show your support for the campaign, you can sign a petition here. If your community group / church / business would like to show support for the campaign, please contact Kate on firstname.lastname@example.org
Spreading the word We continue to spread the word about our project. Since we last wrote to you we attended the Stockport Fair Trade Fair and spoke to the Business Green Scene group at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Bury Climate Action about our project.
We would be most grateful if you could help us promote our new share offer by asking friends and family to subscribe to our newsletter or to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
With energy prices reaching record highs amid a cost-of-living crisis, a greater number of people across the UK are entering fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty refers to a household that cannot meet its fuel costs which tend to be above the national average. It most commonly impacts low-income individuals with energy inefficient homes leading to high energy usage. Poor insulation is one of the principal causes of fuel poverty as a significant amount of energy is wasted in households living in fuel poverty.
Why is this an issue?
With increasing living costs, it is estimated that more than 1 in 3 households could be in fuel poverty from October 2022. This is concerning since those living in fuel poverty are more susceptible to illness caused by damp and cold homes, such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular stress, exacerbated asthma symptoms, and mental health implications.
Furthermore, there are socio-political issues associated with fuel poverty since neighbourhoods characterised by poor housing tend to be populated by people of colour, young people, or those with disabilities. This represents a significant inequality in terms of health and quality of housing. As an example, the neighbourhoods which will struggle the most with the energy crisis, known as energy crisis hotspots, represent 21% of people of colour compared to just 11% of white people. It is also estimated that 900,000 English households with a disabled resident are in fuel poverty, with 3.5 million young people living in energy crisis hotspots.
For more detail on Fuel Poverty see Friends of the Earth’s report. A map of fuel poverty hot spots across the UK has also been collated to help local authorities focus their action.
What’s the solution?
The solution needs to be better quality housing and the provision of insulation for properties that are able to take it on. There are over 4.4 million homes across England and Wales that qualify for cavity wall insulation but don’t have it, and a further 4.8 million without suitable loft insulation.
Households in fuel poverty are generally unable to afford insulation, therefore a campaign to improve the quality of housing needs to come from a government level. Subsidies and grants for household insulation need to be issued alongside educational campaigns raising awareness of the benefits properly insulated properties can bring. If insulation is a distant and unaffordable concept to millions of households across the UK, more and more people will fall into fuel poverty and experience the bleak consequences of it.
Friends of the Earth has launched its United for Warm Homes Campaign this September. One of its three campaign calls is to a nationwide insulation programme.
The other two calls are for:
Urgent additional financial support to keep people warm– see our list of support available in Greater Manchester.
Permanent fixes to our failed energy system.
If you would like to join us please get in touch – email@example.com and come along to one of our meetings – see our calendar.
Children and staff at Fiddlers Lane Primary School are now the proud owners of a solar-powered stopwatch, having received grant funding from Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR).
Ann McQuirk, Business Manager at Fiddlers Lane Primary School said:
“The solar-powered stop watch has been well received by children and teachers alike – we think it’s wonderful! The children use it every day going around the track to time themselves. The solar-powered stopwatch is an ongoing partnership with GMCR who have once again supported our school by funding these environmental projects which otherwise would not have happened.”
The school was previously awarded funding from GMCR in 2020 for an in-school recycling scheme and cameras for the bird boxes.
Ian Whitehouse, Site Manager at the school said:
“We spent our first grant from GMCR on recycling facilities and two camera bird boxes; one to replace the broken one for the Nursery and another for the older children to see.”
The school had community-owned solar panels installed by GMCR back in 2016. Since then, the panels have generated 140,000 kWh – that’s enough green electricity to charge over 14 million smartphones. Having solar panels means the school has also saved thousands of pounds on their energy bills, as well as showing the children real life solutions to the climate crisis.
Kate Eldridge, Director of GMCR, said:
“We’re delighted to be able to make a further award from our Community Fund to Fiddlers Lane Primary School. The school has embraced all aspects of sustainability from looking at the efficiency of their building to engaging the pupils in environmental issues. It’s really inspiring and we are happy to support them where we can.”
GMCR is a community energy scheme, run entirely by volunteers and owned by members of the community. Their community fund comprises GMCR’s profits and donations from GMCR members. GMCR’s Community Fund is open to applications for carbon reduction and environmental education projects in the local area.
GMCR is also offering energy saving advice to anyone in the local community who is looking to save some money on their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. They’ve teamed up with Groundwork, a charity providing free support, which ranges from advice on reducing your energy use, advice on damp, mould and condensation, and help to access any grants you may be entitled to. You can contact the Groundwork Green Doctors free on 0800 090 3638.
Notes to the editor
1. Photo attached of the Fiddlers Lane solar powered stop watch, featuring the Headteacher Sarah Cooper (right) and the School Business Manager Ann McQuirk (left).
2. 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. It has 9 solar arrays, totalling c. 350 kWp capacity.
3. The generation meter reading taken at Fiddlers Lane Primary School on 13 June 2022 was 143,549kWh. This equates to saving c. 35 tonnes CO2 since the panels were installed by displacing electricity drawn from the grid.
4. 14 million smartphones charged is calculated based on 143,549kWh electricity generated by GMCR at Fiddlers Lane to date, a phone with a 2000mAh battery and 5V charger using 0.01kwh for a full charge.
5. Fiddlers Lane Primary School receive a discount on the electricity they receive from the GMCR solar panels compared to the price charged by their main supplier. Since the panels were installed they have saved £3,995.
6. Groundwork is a federation of charities mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment across the UK. They’re passionate about creating a future where every neighbourhood is vibrant and green, every community is strong and able to shape its own destiny and no-one is held back by their background or circumstances.
All Greater Manchester residents can call the Groundwork Energyworks team free on 0800 090 3638 for energy saving advice and support.
7. The GMCR Energy Savers project is funded by Electricity North West’s Powering our Communities fund and delivered by Groundwork.
As Directors of a solar energy project, we always look forward to Spring as the days get longer and our panels see more sunshine. This year it feels particularly optimistic as the vaccines roll out and the prospect of seeing friends outside in the warm weather is on the horizon.
Solar performance in the previous quarter October to December is not the sunniest time of the year, so we don’t expect to generate a lot of electricity. Our monitoring system shows that during this period in 2020 we generated 24MWh across our 9 solar arrays, saving 6 tonnes of CO2.
This brings the total for life of the project to 700MWh, enough to make over 38 million cups of tea, saving almost 200 tonnes CO2!
Community Fund At GMCR’s AGM in September 2020, members agreed to donate £6,000 to a community fund to be used for carbon reduction and/or environmental education. This is made up of GMCR profits and donations from our members. We’re offering £1,000 each to our first 6 sites to spend on carbon reduction and environmental education projects.
In 2020, we presented Fiddlers Lane Primary School with a cheque for £1,000 from the previous year’s Community Fund award. The school has spent it on recycling facilities and camera bird boxes.
GMCR Energy Savers GMCR is offering energy saving advice and support to parents, teachers and local families. If you live in Irlam and Cadishead, Ordsall, Swinton, Little Hulton, Monton, Partington or Chesham and would like to speak to someone in confidence about your energy bills, or just want to find out how you can keep warm and reduce your carbon footprint, you can call the team of Groundwork Green Doctors on 0800 090 3638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply quote GMCR as a reference to access your free personalised advice.
Now that the roadmap out of lockdown has been published, we’re looking forward to arranging energy saving events and activities in summer. Watch this space!