Community energy has a multitude of benefits for the local people and the environment. What about the people who are behind these projects? I interviewed Eva Goudouneix, the community energy officer at Repower London, to find out her motivations and thoughts about managing the North Kensington Community Energy project and why people should invest.
North Kensington Community Energy is a community energy project by Repower London. They have installed 138kWp of solar panels (enough to power 44 London homes) on the Westway Sports Centre in West London in the borough of North Kensington and Chelsea. The solar panels are community owned by people who invest in the community share offer. The share off has a 3% annual return for investors and you can invest as little as £50.
What attracted you to community energy?
Eva: The way our energy system is designed today is to serve the businesses rather than the people. Community energy is about reversing this trend, putting energy back in the hands of people and communities. This way, we can take on climate and social challenges collectively. I believe this is essential and that’s a huge motivation for me to work in this sector.
What were the main challenges in getting this project off the ground?
Eva: About North Kensington Community Energy? We encountered a few challenges, especially as we installed our solar panels and raised the funds during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have a wonderful team of directors and volunteers, who have worked hard to get the project off the ground. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm from the community, and we’ve had more than 100 members joining our energy co-op.
What have you learnt from this project that will benefit the next one?
Eva: Having a strong and motivated group of volunteers makes a huge difference.
How do you think the community fund and solar power affects the local community?
Eva: The solar panels we installed on the Westway Sports Centre will save 28 tonnes of CO2 every year and generate a Community Fund of £42,000 over the lifetime of the project (20 years). The Community Fund will be used to support local causes and strengthen the local community. NKCE is an energy co-op empowering its members. They are the ones shaping the project and deciding how the Community Fund is spent.
If someone asked you ‘why should I invest?’ what would you say?
Eva: By investing, you become a member of NKCE and you will have a say in how the co-op is run. You also join the wider co-op movement, where businesses are owned and controlled by its members. Co-ops are democratic, sustain their communities, and help build fairer societies. As an energy co-op, we install solar panels to reduce carbon emissions and lead our borough towards a greener and more sustainable future. We are also embedded in the community, and your investment will contribute to generate a Community Fund to support local organisations. Last but not least, you will have the peace of mind that your savings are put to good use and you will make a return on your investment!