Britain celebrates 25 years of wind energy as tax-free ISA opens new sale avenues for wind farms

The UK's first commercial wind farm celebrates its 25th anniversary during the same week that the UK’s first wind investment eligible for a tax-free ISA achieved “fastest ever” sales for a long-term offer on Abundance Investment.

Generating more than 340GWh of renewable electricity since December 1991, the Delabole Wind Farm in Cornwall was first developed by local farmers as a response to plans for a nuclear power station in the area. Bought by independent renewable energy company Good Energy in 2002, the farm now generates enough electricity to power around 6,200 homes per year.

Over the past 25 years, the farm has produced enough clean energy to boil 3.4 billion kettles and cook more than 40 million Christmas turkeys.

Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport OBE said: “This is an incredible achievement for the renewable industry – and a big moment for Delabole. Since the turbines started turning, renewable technologies have come a long way, with wind power generating a record-breaking 12% of the UK’s electricity in 2015.

“The success of the wind farm has largely been down to the support of the local community who are the real custodians of this site. It’s thanks to them, and their belief in the project, that has helped make Delabole the perfect model for further wind power developments here in the UK.”

‘Energy revolution’

Between 2009 and 2011, Good Energy invested £11.8m to repower the site, replacing the 10 existing turbines with four larger ones and more than doubling the total installed capacity of the site to 9.2MW. The site became the first in the UK to offer its own local tariff in 2013, enabling around 170 local households to benefits from 100% renewable energy at a special rate.

Commenting on the landmark occasion, Friends of the Earth (FoE) renewable energy and climate campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “What began at Delabole was nothing short of a UK energy revolution – the first commercial wind farm in the country and the first step on a much bigger journey to a cleaner and more democratic energy system.

“Since then, renewable energy like wind and solar has gone from strength to strength, and now generates a quarter of the UK’s electricity, but much more will be needed as we race to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”

Green savings

The news comes as the UK’s first wind investment eligible to be included in a tax-free ISA has achieved the fastest sales ever for a long-term offer on Abundance Investment.

In less than a week since launch, the debentures have attracted close to £1m in investment for the Upper Pitforthie Windgen 500KW wind turbine in Aberdeenshire, achieving more than 40% of their target already.

The turbine was commissioned in August 2016 and is therefore pre-accredited for the Feed-in Tariff subsidy level prior to the recent cuts. On offer is a variable return debenture with an effective average annual rate of return estimated at 7.3% – 8.5% over the 17-year investment life, with a minimum investment of just £5. The total amount available for investment is £2.3m.

Abundance founder and managing director Bruce Davis said: “This is one of the last chances to invest in an onshore wind project whose returns are underpinned by a Feed-in-Tariff rate no longer available to new projects and without any construction risk. Investors will have the opportunity to effectively double their money if they hold the debenture for its full 17-year term.

“Abundance members can now have a fully diversified renewable energy ISA portfolio which is considered good practice in investment – with projects in wind, solar and biomass and over a variety of time frames – and enjoy tax-free returns.”

This is the latest ISA-eligible new renewable energy investment to be listed on Abundance since it launched the UK’s first Green Energy ISA in November. More than 1,200 people have now opened ISA accounts with Abundance and over £5 million has been invested through the ISA since November to fund UK renewable energy projects.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie