Oxford’s innovative Low Carbon Hub has extended its target to raise £2.5 million by the end of March after meeting its initial £1.5 million target in just nine weeks.
As laid out in its share offer document, the organisation set a £3 million investment target for 2021. This investment is needed to grow its portfolio of renewable energy generation, and in particular to support the development of the Ray Valley Solar project.
This 19 MW solar park, located near Bicester, will be the largest community owned energy project in the UK.
Extending the target for this first phase of its share raise will mean it can be less reliant on short term loans during the construction phase of Ray Valley Solar.
The Low Carbon Hub comprises two organisations working in cooperation: the Low Carbon Hub Industrial and Provident Society (Low Carbon Hub IPS) and the Low Carbon Hub Community Interest Company (Low Carbon Hub CIC). Surpluses from the Hub IPS are passed to the Hub CIC to fund its work on community energy projects.
The Low Carbon Hub IPS is developing a decentralised, locally-owned renewable energy infrastructure for Oxfordshire. This consists of a portfolio of renewable energy projects with businesses, schools and public sector partners. Projects include roof-top, ground-mounted and canopy solar photovoltaic installations (solar PV), micro-hydro schemes, and biomass.
The Low Carbon Hub IPS raises the investment and is the owner of these energy generation assets. Investors in The Low Carbon Hub IPS Limited, become members and owners.
Surpluses from the Hub IPS are passed to the Hub CIC, a social enterprise, to fund its community benefit projects and supporting activities. An example of a Low Carbon Hub IPS project is the solar PV installation on Oxford Bus Company’s depot in Cowley.
The purpose of the Low Carbon Hub CIC is to deliver community benefit and provide practical support to communities to develop their own renewable energy projects on community assets. The projects provide cheaper electricity, an income for the local community and opportunities for local people to invest. The Hub team supports community volunteers through the complex process of setting up a social enterprise, developing their project, getting the project to investment-readiness and raising necessary finance. The process normally results in a local share-offer in which citizens can invest. Surpluses from community-owned enterprises are reinvested into further locally-managed carbon reduction projects. An example of a Low Carbon Hub CIC-supported project is Osney Lock Hydro in West Oxford. This is the first community owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames. The hydro is now fully operational, generating clean green electricity.