We’re a social enterprise that’s out to prove we can meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people and the planet
A New Energy System
The days of fossil fuels are numbered. The shift to renewable generation is gaining pace and gives us the opportunity to reshape the way we manage our energy.
We are calling for the creation of a new system that:
- has renewable generation and energy efficiency at its heart, reducing carbon emissions
- makes the money we spend on energy work harder for the benefit of our communities and strengthening the local economy
- supports the creation of more locally-owned community energy projects, putting local power in the hands of local people
- makes our homes, businesses, and community buildings more healthy and comfortable
- is smart and flexible so as to be able to make the most of future technological solutions.
Each year, Oxfordshire spends £1.5 billion on energy. By encouraging energy efficiency, increasing local energy generation, supporting the shift to electric transport and championing community ownership, Low Carbon Hub is ensuring that more of this money stays local. In the process, we are creating a better energy template for not just Oxfordshire but the whole of the UK.
What is Community Energy?
If we want a renewable energy future in the UK – and specifically one that is developed for the benefit of local economies and communities – we will need to stand up for it, together.
To us, community energy needs to be a fundamental part of the national energy transition. This means creating projects owned or controlled by communities, which aim to reduce energy demand or to supply renewable energy to power local buildings.
Our ambition is for the whole of Oxfordshire to be powered by an interconnected series of smart micro-grids centred around multiple small scale, community controlled renewable energy schemes.
Find out more about what community energy means to us, and our plan to make it happen in Oxfordshire, in the Low Carbon Hub Community Energy Manifesto.
The vision for Oxfordshire’s energy future set out in this manifesto is not just highly ambitious. It is eminently achievable, and based on a credible and sophisticated analysis of local energy trends, challenges and opportunities. It also pulls off the magic trick of being attractive and compelling! The future outlined here is one that people will want to be a part of creating.LEO MURRAY
If only every UK city and county had a Low Carbon Hub as effective as Oxfordshire’s, our national energy transition would be in the bag.
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY, 10:10
Our business plan
Oxfordshire’s energy needs will be met by
an energy system that’s good for people and
good for the planet. The Oxfordshire Energy
Strategy sets out the targets for 2030. We have
taken the targets relevant to the Low Carbon
Hub and set out below our role in helping
to reach those targets. Working with our
community shareholders, we expect our role to
be necessary to this effort but not sufficient.
Understanding our organisation
The Low Carbon Hub comprises two organisations working in cooperation: the Low Carbon Hub Industrial and Provident Society (Low Carbon Hub IPS) and the Low Carbon Hub Community Interest Company (Low Carbon Hub CIC). Surpluses from the Hub IPS are passed to the Hub CIC to fund our work on community energy projects.
Low Carbon Hub IPS
The Low Carbon Hub IPS Limited was set up as an Industrial Provident Society. Since the Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 these are now known as Registered Societies, a legal form used for businesses that are run for the benefit of the wider community, re-investing profits in the community. Community Benefit societies are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The purpose of the Low Carbon Hub IPS is to develop a decentralised, locally-owned renewable energy infrastructure for Oxfordshire to put local power in the hands of local people. We do this by developing our own portfolio of renewable energy projects with businesses, schools and public sector partners. No capital investment is required from our partners and there is minimal risk. Projects include roof-top, ground-mounted and canopy solar photovoltaic installations (solar PV), micro-hydro schemes, and biomass.
The Low Carbon Hub IPS raises the investment and is the owner of these energy generation assets. Investors in The Low Carbon Hub IPS Limited, become members and owners.
Surpluses from the Hub IPS are passed to the Hub CIC to fund its community benefit projects and supporting activities. An example of a Low Carbon Hub IPS project is the solar PV installation on Oxford Bus Company’s depot in Cowley.
Company registration number: 31903R
Low Carbon Hub CIC
The other half of the Low Carbon Hub structure is the Community Interest Company (CIC). CICs are social enterprises that want to use their surplus or assets for public good.
The purpose of the Low Carbon Hub CIC is to deliver community benefit and provide practical support to communities to develop their own renewable energy projects on community assets. The projects provide cheaper electricity, an income for the local community and opportunities for local people to invest. The Hub team supports community volunteers through the complex process of setting up a social enterprise, developing their project, getting the project to investment-readiness and raising necessary finance. The process normally results in a local share-offer in which citizens can invest. Surpluses from community-owned enterprises are reinvested into further locally-managed carbon reduction projects. An example of a Low Carbon Hub CIC-supported project is Osney Lock Hydro in West Oxford.
In addition, the CIC is developing innovative low-carbon energy services and business models for communities to improve our renewable energy infrastructure. A part of the work of the CIC is influencing key stakeholders to create a supportive operating environment for community energy.
Our community group partners have a shareholding in the CIC to ensure our operation is totally transparent and is guided by those it is set up to serve. They elect one community member on our board of directors. To see if your group can join contact us.
Company registration number: 7583663
Low Carbon Hub Sandford Hydro Ltd
Sandford Hydro Ltd has been set up as a subsidiary of the IPS. All IPS Board members are on the Board of Sandford Hydro Ltd.
Company registration number: 9743887
Management team and Board of Directors
Most members of the Board have been working together on community projects for many years. The Low Carbon Hub CIC and IPS Boards of Directors are comprised of the same people with the addition of an independent Director on each: Steve Drummond is the independent Director of the Low Carbon Hub IPS; Sue Halliwell is the independent Director of the Low Carbon Hub CIC. A Community Director is also elected to the CIC Board by our community shareholder groups.
In 2016 Low Carbon Hub was proud to be awarded the Ashden Award for Sustainable Communities – the world’s leading green energy award.
The judges were impressed with the scale and breadth of our work with communities, businesses and schools across Oxfordshire to move community energy forward.
Low Carbon Hub has an extremely compelling vision for the rivers and rooftops of Oxfordshire to be the power stations of the future, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for residents.Ashden Award Judges
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I become a member of the Low Carbon Hub IPS?
Our members are our investor shareholders. You can become a member by investing in the Low Carbon Hub IPS Limited. We run share offers giving people the opportunity to invest with us. As we run these offers, we will keep this page updated.
You may also want to sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop on any new share offer announcements.
How does my community group become a member of the Low Carbon Hub CIC?
Your community group can become a community shareholder of the Community Interest Company (CIC) if it is has a low carbon or community energy focus. Our community groups can apply to the Low Carbon Hub for grant funding, get support for projects and ideas, and vote in the Community Director to the CIC Board.
See our current community group members.
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a member, contact Saskya Huggins.
What is a community share?
Community shares refers to a distinct type of share capital called ‘withdrawable shares’ which behave differently to conventional share capital, also known as ordinary or transferable shares. Unlike the transferable shares used by most companies, community shares cannot be transferred between people, and are instead withdrawable, meaning that shareholders can withdraw their share capital, subject to detail in their share offer document and to Board approval.
Community shares are not listed on the stock market and cannot be bought and sold between people.
You can read more about the difference between community shares and conventional shares here.
What are the benefits of investing in community shares?
There are many benefits to investing in community shares. Here we have highlighted a few key benefits:
- You are supporting an enterprise, and the benefits it brings to you and your community through its products and services. If the venture is successful you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you have played a part in making it work.
- You become a member of a community enterprise, with a democratic say in its social aims and future success.
- You might also be offered a financial return on your investment, together with the scope to cash in your shares at some point in the future. However, it is important to remember that this is a social investment and not a financial investment.
What are the risks of investing in community shares?
Buying any type of shares involves risk. Community Shares can’t go up in value, but they can go down if the society is making losses. As a shareholder you could lose some or all of the money you invest. You should only take these risks with money you can afford to lose.