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Case study: Solar social enterprise in the UK sees positive growth

A green energy firm based in the Midlands in the UK is bucking the economic trend as the number of property owners looking to generate green energy increases.

Family-owned renewable energy specialists Solar Solutions has seen a successful 12 months with the firm’s father and son partnership boosting turnover and bringing new jobs to the local area. After a £50,000 investment, the Malvern firm was launched in 2010 by businessman David McCann. A former civil servant, McCann says he established the business after spotting a gap in the renewable energy market and soon brought son Rowan on board.  

Over the past year the climate conscious company, whic employs 16 people and operates as a social enterprise by ploughing 20% of profits into community projects across the region, has gone on to double turnover and champion new renewable energy sources.

"Our first two years have been hard work but the steady performance of the business, especially in the first six months of this year, has been good to see in such a tough climate," said managing director, McCann.  “I am delighted we’ve been able to help boost the region’s employment market by adding local expertise to our team. But aside from job opportunities we’ve also remained at the forefront by offering new technology to property owners which allows them to reduce their energy bills."

The demand for renewable power is accelerating, he added, as installation costs have more than halved in 12 months, meaning "thousands more are considering a switch to green energy". The potential 15% return on investment on energy bills over a 20-year period is also "a big selling-point for us", he said.

News of the firm’s performance follows a government announcement which said four million UK homes will be powered by the sun within eight years - representing 22,000 MW of installed solar power capacity by 2020. McCann welcomed the news but says his firm is staying ahead of energy trends following a recent proposal to extend the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to include domestic homes and not just commercial properties.

“Up to £1250 is now available through renewable heat grants for the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers.," he said. "However it is good to see proposals for regular payments to homes whicj want to generate energy from renewable sources in the same way the feed-in-tariff rewards the use of solar panels. Ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers are just two examples.

“There are some exciting new government incentives coming in for these technologies so I expect this to be a growth area as rural homeowners across the Midlands which rely on oil, LPG or electricity, see there are other ways to cut energy bills.”

He added: "With installation costs at an all-time low and with financial incentives available, more property owners are recognising how worthwhile it is to potentially invest in renewable energy and save money with the help of products which carry 30-year warranties. That’s a strong message.”

Social enterprise 

Talking about the firm’s own involvement with the community, McCann said: “When I set up Solar Solutions the aim was to be different. Of course we wanted to be commercially successful but too many businesses give nothing back.

“Therefore we made a commitment from day one that we'd give a percentage of our profits back through community projects. I am delighted we’ve met that pledge through schemes including tree planting and charitable donations – recently working with the Malvern Cube and Acorns Children’s Hospice."

 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling

 

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