Powering up communities through renewable energy


Leapfrog Bridge Finance has helped a local council to be the first in the country to produce all its electricity from renewable sources. Through the new solar farm in York, Warrington Borough Council will take control of its energy supply while reinvesting some of the profits in social outcomes.

  • 11,000

    homes per year will be powered by the solar farm

  • 13,500

    tonnes of carbon per year will be saved

  • 200

    acres have been given back to nature to protect species

  • Challenge

    Energy is such a vital part of our lives, and yet we have next to no say in how it is generated, how much it costs us or where it comes from (currently, 95% of the UK’s energy market is controlled by just six companies). Community and local energy is one solution that helps to address multiple social issues facing the UK: fuel poverty, climate change and communities in decline. As the energy system changes, local and community generation provides a way to connect people, places and energy and generate income streams that can be vital for community organisations to become viable and maintain sustainability.

  • Approach

    Leapfrog Bridge Finance helped turn what was initially a commercial opportunity into a social impact investment. The investment involved a loan to Gridserve to enable the construction of an 'ultra-advanced' solar farm in York. A key part of the investment is the establishment of a Community Benefit Fund which ensures a proportion of the surplus is used to support social wellbeing programmes in the local area, and finance fuel poverty reduction projects. Gridserve is also making a one-off £100,000 contribution to the fund upon completion of the project. A second site, also funded by Leapfrog, under construction in Hull will also be owned by Warrington Borough Council who will use the power to become the first local authority to power its offices, streetlights and several primary schools entirely from renewable energy.

  • Revenue model

    Leapfrog Bridge Finance has provided £11m to the York project which will create investment income for the Council. The Community Benefit Fund will generate on average £85,000 per annum over 30 years.

  • Impact

    The solar farm alone will produce enough electricity to power almost 11,000 homes and will save over 13,500 tonnes of carbon per year. Additionally, almost 200 acres has been given back to nature to protect species, through the introduction of bee hives and wild flowers.

    The aim of the Community Benefit Fund is to enable individuals, couples, families who are in fuel poverty or deprivation and third sector organisations that support them to benefit from renewable energy and energy efficiency measures through the provision of advice, installation of technology, energy saving measures as well as other relevant support.

Building York Hybrid Solar Farm

Gridserve WBC Limited have built a 34.7MWp ground mounted, bifacial solar farm with a 27MW Battery Storage System, on a 198-acre site on low grade land in Easingwold, East Yorkshire. The new bifacial solar panels combined with the single axis tracking technology enables this project to optimise yield and energy production.

  • We are really delighted that the community benefit fund we are establishing will enable us to help more people and community organisations in Warrington to benefit from renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    David Cowley

    Head of Service, Warrington Borough Council

Leapfrog Finance Bridge Fund

Find out more about the bridge loan facility which enables UK community organisations to install and/or acquire low-carbon energy systems.

Drew new

Drew Ritchie

Investment Director
Talk to me about:
Social and affordable housing