Hackney estate’s solar project starts ‘community energy revolution’

The solar panels on top of Banister House

The solar panels on top of Banister House - Credit: Archant

A project to generate green energy has finally come to fruition, with the last solar panels being installed and the final cables laid on the housing estate where it will help address fuel poverty.

The project which boasts of being London’s biggest community-owned energy scheme, has been delivered by Hackney Energy, a partnership forged between Hackney Council and Repower London, a not-for-profit social enterprise which works with local authorities and communities to develop locally owned energy infrastructure.

Hackney Energy has addressed youth unemployment by paying young interns to work at the Banister House estate in Homerton since the collaboration was announced 18 months ago.

The young people aged between 15 and 21 have learned about the IT, technical, legal, structural and media elements of the community-owned energy process.

On Saturday the community came together to celebrate the past few months’ achievement as well as the ongoing benefits that the community will receive from the project.

Once commissioned, the 102kWp solar array will generate up to 82,000kWh of energy annually, saving 50,000kg of CO2 emissions. Even the estate’s lifts are being run off the power generated.

In addition, a portion of the revenue generated through the government’s feed-in tariff and sale of energy over the 20-year life of the project will generate over £28,000 for the Banister House Solar community fund, which will benefit local people by helping offset fuel poverty through free energy efficiency measures.

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Banister House resident and intern, 16-year-old Lanre Alafe said: “I decided to join this project to learn about solar panels, to gain better communication skills, to learn to work with different people and to help me get an apprenticeship in the future.

“This project is important.”

Fellow resident Leila Fortunato, who has taken on the role of Solar Director, added: “I know what fuel poverty is because I’ve lived it.

“I have been involved in setting up this community energy project over the last year and I believe it will help take the power back into our own hands.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and sustainability, said she was excited to see the project finally go live.

“The benefits for the Banister Housing Estate has been manifold, including training opportunities, investment prospects and, of course, production of clean, renewable energy for the estate for the next 20 years.”

Repower London’s chief executive officer, Agamemnon Otero said: “It’s not just about putting some solar panels up on the roof, but it’s about creating a platform for those who are most disaffected, those who are out of work, so there’s something they can be part of, so they can donate their time and energy and see their community changing.

“It’s about social investment, reducing fuel poverty, it’s really trying to address all those issues and keeping the money the local community.

“This project on Banister House Estate is the start of a democratised energy movement that will create a community energy revolution.”