Video: The launch of London's biggest community-owned solar project

A Hackney mum has described how a social housing solar panel project in her estate has benefited “all of her family” in a video marking the launch of London’s biggest community-owned energy collective.

Two of Leila Fortunato’s children, Aisha and Jaili, have been involved from the start of the project, working as paid apprentices to help deliver and install solar panels on the rooftop of the Banister Housing Estate in Homerton.

The brother and sister were among more than 20 young people from the estate, aged between 14-24, involved in the solar array, undertaking paid work experience and learning about the IT, technical, legal, structural and media elements of the project, which Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier describes in the video as “a beacon, nationally and internationally, of what can be achieved.”.

The Banister House Solar project, which officially launched last month (3 October), has been developed by Repowering London in partnership with local residents and Hackney Council, and delivered using funds from the Council and capital raised through shares bought by local residents, and others.

Now commissioned, the 102kWp solar array will generate up to 82,000kWh of energy annually, saving 50,000kg of CO2 emissions.

Leila, Banister House Estate resident and Banister House Solar Director, said: “I noticed a change in terms of how confident [Aisha and Jaili] were and their sense of responsibility. It has been very fulfilling. All of us in the family have been able to get involved, which is great.”


Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, Hackney Council
The key benefits of this project, apart from the fact we are generating green energy, is what it’s meant for the local community: the engagement of the local community in this project, and the ownership, has been a great success.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, Hackney Council

The energy generated will benefit local people by powering lifts, the communal lighting, the community centre and the nursery in the estate, as well as helping offset fuel poverty.

In addition, around £28,000 will be raised for the Banister House Solar community fund thanks to revenue generated through the government’s Feed-in Tariff and the sale of excess energy over the 20-year life of the project.

Agamemnon Otero, CEO of Repowering London, said: “The completion of this project proves that community energy works on social housing.”

In March 2014, the Council employed Repowering, a not-for-profit that specialises in creating local energy for the benefit of local residents, to coproduce with Banister House residents the first community-owned renewable project on social housing in Hackney.

Hackney Council further provided project managers, lawyers, surveyors, and electrical engineers for the scheme; and granted a 20-year roof lease agreement for the estate at peppercorn rent.

Banister House Solar is now the largest community owned solar energy project on social housing in London.

Watch the video.