Energise Barnsley: Tackling climate change and fuel poverty

Energise Barnsley is using solar power to cut CO2 and household bills. It’s installed solar panels on 100s of council homes and buildings. The project was part-funded by a £1.2 million loan from Charity Bank.

Social Problem

If the UK is to have any hope of reaching net-zero by 2050, it will need to significantly increase its renewable energy production. More than 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions currently come from people’s homes, many of which are powered by fossil fuels.


Fitting homes with solar panels can help to reduce household bills as well as carbon emissions. Energise Barnsley is a joint venture by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Generation Community Ventures and other partners. In the last few years, it has installed solar panels on hundreds of council homes, schools and other local authority buildings.


While Energise Barnsley managed to raise £800,000 in community bonds using the ethical crowdfunding platform Ethex, it still needed £1.2 million to get off the ground. The society approached several financial organisations before deciding to work with Charity Bank. Community ownership is a crucial part of Energise Barnsley, so the society wanted the option of issuing more bonds in the future to pay off some of the loan.


321 council homes have been fitted with solar panels thanks to Energise Barnsley. The scheme is now the largest of its kind in the UK and plays a key role in the council’s plan to tackle fuel poverty, which affects around 13% of households in England[1]. Along with reducing energy bills, the project is cutting carbon emissions – by over 3000 tonnes to date.

[1] Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics LILEE Report 2021 (2019 data) (publishing.service.gov.uk)

“We met with Charity Bank and got on well; they understood the business and what Energise Barnsley was trying to achieve. And they offered us a deal that was very attractive. I’m very happy to sing Charity Bank’s praises as it has been a pleasure working with them.”

Andy Heald, Director of Energise Barnsley

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,000 loans totalling over £350m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.