252

community investors

11

solar arrays

575,197

funds raised

2,233,586

kilowatt-hours of clean electricity

97,882

money saved by sites

550

metric tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided

Our Solar Sites

A group of primary school children hold a yellow card sign that says "Thank you South East London Community Energy for our solar-tastic panles" inside a hand drawn sun.
Selce has installed solar arrays on eleven community sites including seven local schools, two leisure centres, a church and an hotel linked with an innovative community sculpture.

Use the interactive map to find out more about our existing solar sites. 

Do you manage a community building and are interested in going solar? Read on to find out how. 

Going Solar with Selce

We are always looking for suitable sites for solar arrays.  If you control or manage a public building in South-East London and you are interested in community-financed solar, please read the following Frequently Asked Questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To be suited for one of Selce’s solar arrays, your building needs to fulfil three initial criteria:

  • Be in use by the local community (e.g. school, community centre, church)
  • Have large, sunny, unshaded roofs: both pitched and flat roofs can work well but
      • Pitched roofs must face either south-east or west
      • Be occupied and making use of electricity during the day
      • Be able to channel any savings from reduced energy costs into projects that benefit the community

There are two reasons why we would avoid installing on a roof that is in good condition:

  • It is shaded
  • It is a long way from a distribution board

Solar panels are wired together in strings and in series. Any shading on one panel reduces electricity generation in the whole string. Therefore, we generally only install solar on roofs with minimal shading. With DC electricity, there is generally a loss of voltage over distance, therefore we avoid installing on any roof where a long DC cable is used. Our first proposal is always provisional. We are happy to discuss a larger or different design with you. Once solar contractors are engaged, the design is likely to evolve guided by you and your preferences.

This depends on the size and orientation of your roof, the amount of shading and how much electricity your site generally uses. Solar generation varies seasonally, normally peaking at the summer solstice. At times you will have more solar electricity than you need, and this surplus will be exported to the national electricity grid. There will also be times when there will not be enough to meet your needs and you will have to use a conventional energy supply instead. We generally size your solar system so that at least 80% of the solar electricity is used by you.

We run a competitive tender process to identify an appropriately accredited company that makes the best offer in terms of cost, quality, and track record. Once the feasibility assessment, legal negotiations and share offer are complete, the installers work with you to identify a date for installation that works for you. For schools this is usually during the summer break.

Depending on the size of the solar array, installation can take between one and three weeks. They meet with you prior to installation and provide a full RAMS (works risk assessment).

Selce will sell solar electricity to you in the same way as your regular electricity supplier.  We meter electricity generated and consumed by you and charge you for the for each kilowatt/hour (kWh) of solar electricity that you use. Selce is a not-for-profit co-operative. The per-kWh charge is the minimum amount required to enable us to cover costs and repay the community share capital investment (see: how would we finance the solar installation). We do not make a profit from your energy usage. We will never offer to install a solar PV system if we cannot offer a significant saving compared with your current electricity supplier. We generally size the system so that your site uses at least 80% of the electricity generated, and this keeps the price low. Initially we use assumptions about the cost of the installation: this is why our first provisional proposal is merely a ‘best guess’.

We are currently working with several sites across SE London and, broadly speaking, the more sites come on board, the lower the cost of the solar installation. This is because there are economies of scale with solar installations. If you are interested in the financial modelling, we would be more than happy to talk you through our financial model in an “open-book” fashion.

We model the projected savings of all sites by comparing our proposed per-kWh price for solar electricity with the current electricity price. Savings increase with each successive year because the price of solar electricity will remain the same for 20 years in real terms (it only increases in line with inflation). The price of commercial electricity tends to increase every year through inflation and commodity price increases (and lately the increases are beyond inflation). In short, we expect the difference between the price of solar electricity compared with commercial electricity to increase.

When modelling we assume a 3.5% increase in the price of commercial electricity, which has been superseded by more recent estimates, making your saving even better.

Selce will apply to a Mayoral Fund (which supports community energy groups like Selce) to cover a third of the cost of the solar installation up to £50,000. Selce proposes to raise the remainder of the finance through a community share offer in which local people buy equity (shares) in Selce. We then  invite individuals to invest between £250 and £20,000. Selce has been set up and registered as a Community Benefit Society which enables us to raise finance in this way. We offer a class of shares known as ‘Withdrawable Shares’. These shares do not change in value but offer a social return on investment instead. Most our members invest in Selce because they want to see their local community benefit from green energy. However, because this kind of share is not protected by the Financial Ombudsman, we work to offer our investors a modest return to offset any risk. In our current financial model, we are offering 2% in the first five years, rising to 3.5% in the later 15 years.

Selce will own and operate the solar PV array for 20 years. It will be our responsibility to maintain, insure and repair the solar panels and make sure they operate at peak capacity during this period. If, after 20 years, you wish to continue receiving solar electricity, ownership of the solar array will be transferred to you at no cost. Modern solar panels are designed to operate even after 20 years at approximately 82% of their original capacity.

Selce will cover all operation and maintenance costs and assumes all the risks associated with ownership and operation of the solar array. We will procure a contractor to swiftly respond to any repair needs. Selce staff will also monitor the performance of the solar PV array remotely to ensure that it is operating as designed.

Selce will add any new sites to our existing insurance which idemnifies the solar installation against:

  • Material damage (including storm, lightning, theft and fire damage)
  • Mechanical breakdown (over and beyond any warranty cover)
  • Any damage to your property or its contents directly attributable to the installation or operation of the solar PV array
  • Loss of revenue & business interruption (emanating from either material damage or mechanical breakdown of the renewable energy system)
  • Public liability

We currently hold specialist solar insurance across all our solar sites. We expect all contracted installers to provide a full parts and labour warranty, supported by deposit insurance and independent warranty insurance to safeguard the continuation of the warranty if the installer ceases to exist. 

The solar industry has come up with solutions for installing solar panels on nearly all roof materials. For tiles, for example, they use a lag bolt and flashing. The bolt is attached to the rafters of the roof, tightly securing the solar panels and the racking system.  To ensure there is no possibility of leaking, a piece of flashing is placed underneath the shingle. For a standing seam roof (a corrugated metal roof), a U-clamp is attached to the raised seam and the solar panel racking is then attached securely to the clamp. Solar panels can also be installed on flat roofs without any penetrations. These are called ballast mounts. The solar panels and their racking are held in place on the roof using the weight of concrete blocks. The weight of the blocks is calculated to ensure the panels remain safely on the roof even in extremely high winds. Our structural surveyor will work with our installers to ensure that your roof has the capacity to support the weight of the solar panels and any ballast. He will also advise on the roof condition: we generally do not install on roofs that are not in good condition.

We design the system so that the panels remain securely attached to the roof and do not cause any damage to it or the building below it. Should something go wrong, our insurance (and that of our installers) will indemnify you against any damage.

The answer to this question really depends on what you decide is right for your roof. There are two options:

Option 1: Selce pays to remove and replace the solar panels (usually limited to once or twice during the lifetime of the project)

Option 2: you pay to remove and replace the solar panels and you include the cost of removal and replacement within the cost of your roofing works.

In the case of Option 1, we would need to increase the price per kWh of solar electricity somewhat in order to be able to build up a reserve fund to pay for contractors do the removal and replacement work. Most of our sites have chosen Option 2 because it keeps the price of solar electricity low. Even in the case of the most extensive roofing works and a complete reinstall of solar panels, the cost of removal and replacement is extremely unlikely to exceed the savings that you will make. On flat roof systems we usually design-in some redundant space to provide a place to store solar panels whilst roofing works take places. It is rare for there to be a need for roofing repairs on a pitched roof system because the panels protect the tiles from the elements. We usually work to identify a solution that is right for you and your roof during lease negotiations.

We would ask thee freeholder or long-term leaseholder to lease your roof to Selce for a period of 20 years. The lease attempts to anticipate all foreseeable circumstances and allocate responsibilities. We have previously negotiated a lease with the Royal Borough of Greenwich for five school sites. We would use this as a basis for our lease for your sites. We will also arrange a Power Purchase Agreement with you. This will set the electricity charge explained above for the 20 years of the solar panels’ life and set out terms for invoicing and payment.

Should you or the freeholder wish to sell the building, within the terms of the lease, you could either buy the solar panels from us at a commercial rate or transfer the lease to the new owner.

Our primary objective is to reduce your energy costs. This is easier in the latter years of the 20-year scheme than in the early years. In the latter years, we unavoidably generate a financial surplus. This will be used to support our free energy advice service. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact the team if you have any questions.  Any questions about the Power Purchase Agreement and legal issues refer to Giovanna, CEO of Selce, giovanna@selce.org.uk or by phone 020 4506 6752. Deren, who is a qualified solar PV installer is best placed to help with technical questions, deren@selce.org.uk

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