Bath's Solar Communities

Updated: Apr 21

The city of Bath was founded by the Romans in the first century AD to take advantage of its thermal waters, now a community of entrepreneurs are clubbing together to generate clean energy through the warmth of the sun.

When we think about energy, we typically think about a sector defined by scale - power plants with cooling towers like skyscrapers, transmission lines running in parallel past the horizon, billion-dollar corporations....

So, how do some pitched roofs, solar panels, and a team of a few dozen mostly volunteers, collectively known as Bath & West Community Energy, compare? Surprisingly well, potentially. A non-profit energy cooperative based in Bath, England, BWCE shows the vast potential of grassroots green energy.

It's a simple and profitable formula. The collective raises money from members of the local community (the minimum investment is just £100 / $137) and uses it to install solar panels on local buildings (which get a discounted energy supply). Then it uses the revenues it earns from selling this energy back to the grid to return everyone’s money - plus interest. Even the smallest investors can support, and profit from, the city’s green energy boom.

It’s a prime example of how communities can take the transition to renewable electricity into their own hands, building a model that’s sustainable in terms of both energy and economics.


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