Community energy is a concept where people who live in an area club together to develop renewable energy projects for the benefit of their community. This can include solar panels, hydro power, wind turbines and wood fuelled boilers. Ownership, control and therefore revenues are kept within the local economy and people have a greater say on how projects get developed and also get a share of the financial benefits.


Sunrise has been established to deliver these sorts of projects in Ipswich and Suffolk (East Suffolk being the Sunrise Coast).

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What is Sunrise Community Energy?

  • What is Sunrise?

    Sunrise is a form of social enterprise called a Community Benefit Society. Anyone is allowed to become a member and it is run on a democratic one member one vote basis. The organisation’s primary aim is not to maximise financial return for its members/shareholders but to deliver its defined ‘Community Benefit’ purpose. In our case that is to support fuel poverty and climate change related projects and to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy systems in Ipswich and Suffolk.

  • Who are we?

    Sunrise was originally set up with the support of John Taylor from the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, in order to help community organisations collaborate and fund solar panel systems that they couldn’t afford on their own. The other founding directors include Sally Chicken (Eastern Savings & Loans Credit Union and current President of the East of England Coop Society), Ruth Wailes (founding Treasurer of the Eastern Savings & Loans Credit Union), Liz Errington (Retail Energy Specialist/Senior Researcher at UEA) and Kate Struthers (Advisor at Community Action Suffolk/CAB). Once we have grown the membership we will hold an AGM and elect a new board.

  • What do we offer?

    We install and operate renewable energy systems on behalf of our host partner organisations. For example, a business or community centre may have a good roof for solar panels but cannot afford to install them themselves. Instead they lease their roof space to Sunrise and we provide and maintain the solar panels for the entire lifetime of the system.

  • How does the host benefit?

    The host will get to use the energy from the solar panels when they are generating. This will be supplied at a rate cheaper than the host’s current energy provider so the host will get cheaper electricity whilst also reducing their carbon footprint.  If a battery pack is included in the agreement, energy usage at the reduced price can be gained for evening consumption too.

  • Will you need to change energy supplier?

    No, not at the moment. You would keep your current energy tariffs in place and would still use those when the panels are not generating or the battery pack depleted of charge.

  • How do we fund the solar panels?

    We aim to fund our project by running a community share offer. Anyone who lives in the area will be able to become a member and invest from as little £50 up to £20,000. We intend to offer a return but are unable to give specific numbers until we have completed our business plan. This investment will be called “withdrawable shares” but the money invested is not likely to be withdrawable for several years, so we will issue a share prospectus setting out the restrictions before accepting money. For our more charitable partners we will be encouraging people to donate or sponsor panels or buy shares on behalf of the host charity. By doing as many rooftops at once, we hope to get a better installation price than by doing them all individually.

  • What do we do with our profits?

    We need to make a small profit in order repay investors and to provide a contingency fund for future repairs. But once these obligations are covered, surplus revenues will either be rolled into future projects or used to set up a community grant fund to support fuel poverty and climate change related projects. Also, when we give out our annual member dividend we will give the option of donating this to the grant fund too or to a charity partner.

  • When time frames are we working towards?

    The Feed in Tariff support drops a little bit every quarter, so the next deadline is the end of December. We are aiming to make our first installations before this date.

  • How do you sign up to host a solar panel system?

    Please email or contact John Taylor on 01473 264595. We will then assess your sites suitability and arrange a site survey.