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Cambridgeshire firm’s huge new solar roof is just the beginning

Chatteris based firm Eco-Pak have had over 1500 solar panels installed on their packhouse roof by the Big Solar Co-op, a pioneering UK-wide not-for-profit co-operative. The panels will meet around 75% of the daytime electricity demand on site, saving them around £1 million over 30 years and cutting carbon emissions by around 100 tonnes in the first year alone.

The solar panels have been provided free of charge to Eco-Pak thanks to an innovative collaboration between Fenland Council’s business advice service, Fenland for Business,  volunteers from Carbon Neutral Cambridge, community investors and the Big Solar Co-op.  

Richard Hall, Operations Director at Eco-Pak said “It was the perfect solution at the perfect time for us. We were worried about increasing energy costs, and I’d had a quote for solar of around £500K. As we’d just bought the building, we’d have needed a bank loan, which would have required a 25% deposit, which at the time we didn’t have.  So when Anne said ‘talk to the Big Solar Co-op – it’s a not-for-profit solar firm who will install the solar for free and charge a reduced KWh price’ I thought my dreams had come true.

Anne Miller, Chair of Carbon Neutral Cambridge said “We’d like to see solar on every feasible roof in Cambridgeshire to help reduce energy costs and cut carbon emissions. So when we heard about Big Solar Co-op’s not-for-profit solar model, we thought it was a great idea. 

The idea is that volunteers like us find potential sites. Investors, often ordinary people, like us, buy shares in Big Solar Co-op and the money is used to pay for good quality, ethically sourced solar panels. Then for around 30 years the panels generate power which is sold cheaply to the business, while the shareholders get a nice financial return.

When one of the business advisors at Fenland Council told us that Eco-Pak were interested in PV but couldn’t afford it, I had a quick look and thought Big Solar Co-op seemed ideal for them, so discussed it with Richard the operations director, and introduced them.”

Jon Hallé, Big Solar Co-op CEO added:  The installation at Eco-Pak in Chatteris is our biggest installation so far at over 1500 panels. “We’ve got lots more large solar rooftops in our pipeline all across the country. Investing with us helps us to unlock the huge potential of cooperatively owned solar on community and commercial rooftops, powering the way forward to a low carbon future.”

Lots of people care deeply about climate change, and investing in the Big Solar Co-op is a really practical way to help increase the proportion of clean renewable power in the UK, while getting a fair financial return. The share offer aims to pay investors a target annual return of 5%, or bank base rate + 2%, whichever is higher. The minimum investment is £100 and the maximum is £100,000. Share interest will be tax free for some shareholders under the Personal Savings Allowance scheme. The Big Solar Co-op has already raised over £1.2 million from over 450 investors and continues to raise further funds to carry out more similar installations through their rolling share offer. To find out more and download a Share Offer Document please visit: