Brighton Energy Coop – Hillbrow Sports Centre, Eastbourne

Hillbrow Sports Centre, in Eastbourne, is part of the University of Brighton offering extensive sports and recreation facilities for the campus and for the local community.  This Genfit solar PV installation project builds on the success of working with Brighton Energy Co-operative (BEC), a Brighton-based collective which builds community-funded solar systems across Sussex.

A total of 554 panels were installed across the two roofs of  Hillbrow Sports Centre and Robert Dodd Annexe buildings in Eastbourne, with a total capacity of just under 150kW. The panels will generate 150,000 kWh of electricity a year, enough to power 33 UK households, saving the university over £6,000 a year and cutting annual carbon emissions by 60 tonnes of CO2.

The University is ranked as one of the top 10 Universities in the country in terms of on-site renewable energy generation and over a third of the current installed capacity was installed as a result of the innovative collaboration with Brighton Energy Co-op.  The installation and operation of the panels is governed by a lease and power purchase agreement between the University and BEC.

To fund the installation of the panels, BEC to raise over £230K in finance from its energy co-operative members through a series of share offers [which were all over subscribed]. Many of those members live in the Brighton area. The income generated from the project has been reinvested into funding further solar installations in Brighton, repaying interest to investors and a proportion will also go into a community fund which is being used to fund environmental education initiatives within the Brighton area.

Having developed a successful model of collaboration with the University, Brighton Energy Co-Op are now planning to install community-owned electric vehicle charge points on the campus.

With University funding having suffered a series of cuts the community energy model offers an opportunity for Universities to invest in on-site renewable energy generation at no capital cost in ways which drive social impact.

Abigail Dombey, the University’s Environmental Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be working again with BEC on another solar project to increase our onsite renewable energy generation, reducing our energy costs and showing the university’s commitment to sustainability.”

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