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Plug Into The Sun install UK's first staff-owned solar

Date: 15 Mar 2012

Eden Project and Ebico team up to launch UK's first staff-owned solar programme

The Eden Project has joined forces with not-for-profit energy supplier Ebico to set up Eden Solarfair, the UK's first employee-owned renewables project.

The pioneering partnership will give Eden staff the chance to invest in a new programme to provide free, renewable energy for the site, generated by solar panels, while offering its employees attractive returns on their investments.

With a minimum entry point of just £200 to buy a stake in the project, the aim is for Solarfair to be owned entirely by Eden staff, and to generate attractive returns for all members of the scheme.

The project, the first of Ebico’s ‘Social Ventures in Energy’ subsidiary (www.ebico.co.uk/social-ventures-in-energy), is the brainchild of Eden Energy Manager Matt Hastings, Ebico’s Managing Director Phil Levermore and Chris Goodall from www.carboncommentary.com.

The unprecedented initiative seeks an equitable distribution of the benefits of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) renewable energy incentive scheme and is part of Eden’s ‘Big Green Hand’ initiative to help staff make efficiency savings at home.

Jess Ball, a member of Eden's retail team and an early applicant for shares in Solarfair, said: "I think it's a really fantastic idea. It's something that I’m very happy to be part of. Solar panels were not suitable for my own house so it's great to have an opportunity to invest in Solarfair at Eden."

Phil Levermore, Managing Director of Ebico, said: "Ebico and the Eden Project want to enable more people to access the investment returns available from a solar power project.

"Taken with the energy efficiency support that Eden offers its staff through the Big Green Hand project, Eden's employees will be able to reduce their fuel bills, help develop carbon-free generation and make an attractive rate of return - all of which ideally complements Ebico's central mission."

Tim Smit, Chief Executive and co-founder of the Eden Project, said:

"At Eden, we are committed to exploring alternative sources of power that will enable us to be independent of fossil fuels.

"This innovative project we've developed with Ebico will enable us to produce our own renewable energy in a sustainable fashion, while at the same time offering our employees an opportunity to own a stake in the scheme and realise excellent returns."

The PV panels, on two roofs in the Eden Project operational support area, have a maximum total output of 49.5kW and were installed and commissioned by the Penzance-based company, Plug into the Sun.

The story has been covered in the Western Morning News

Matt Hastings, Pete Levermore and Andy Tanner at Eden Project Matt Hastings, Pete Levermore and Andy Tanner at Eden Project

Staff owned solar panels at Eden Staff owned solar panels at Eden

Solar panel installation owned by staff at Eden Project Solar panel installation owned by staff at Eden Project