Orchard solar farm, Kent. Image: Community Energy Together
Community Energy Together (CET), a new collaboration between five community energy groups in England and Wales, has launched share offers to fund the transfer of seven operational solar farms into community ownership.
The group says that bringing the seven solar farms into community ownership will increase the size of the community energy sector by 20%.
The solar farms are located in Shropshire, Kent, Devon, Isle of Wight and Swansea, and will have a total capacity of 36MWp.
There has been a lack of national funding for community energy projects for a number of years, so most raise funds through a public share offer. Solar Power Portal’s sister publication Current± has been looking at community energy in the UK as part of a series of articles – the last one explores community energy groups in London.
The CET share offer enables people to use their money to invest in the green transition and earn a return on their investment. In a statement, the group said the projects “will generate a collective community benefit fund of around £20 million to support local social and environmental projects and develop new community renewable projects.”
The five groups who are collaborating through CET are Shropshire and Telford Community Energy, Kent Community Energy, Yealm Community Energy (Devon), Wight Community Energy and Gower Power.
The groups are using an ‘innovative cross-collateralised finance model’ to buy the portfolio of sites from Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE), a partnership set up by Big Society Capital and Power to Change to help transfer the projects into community ownership. Transferring the ownership from CORE completes the process of transferring the sites to community ownership.
Will Walker, climate action manager at Power to Change, said: “Our evidence shows that when assets and services are owned by the people they serve, they offer better value for the public, keep resources and jobs local, create community wealth and build economically resilient places.
Robert Saunders, chair of Shropshire and Telford Community Energy (STCE), said: “Community owned energy gives individuals the vital opportunity to play a part in the clean energy transition beyond just being a consumer. The share offers are being launched on positive investment platform Ethex with a target annual return of 6%. The total fund raise target is £2.5 million. Funds raised over that amount will be used to repay debt early and contribute to an increase in community funds. Investments begin at £250.”
Emma Bridge, chief executive of Community Energy England, said: “The simultaneous launch of these five CET share offers marks a significant milestone for community energy. Raising £2.5 million from community investors to create community energy benefits of c.£20 million demonstrates the immense potential of the sector. Local ownership of our green energy infrastructure is vital for engaging people with the changes we must make to get to net zero.”
Investors will become members of the community benefit society they buy shares in with one vote per shareholder. To find out more, visit the Community Energy Together website.