‘Fat cat free’: Community wind projects seek investment in Wales and Scotland

Not-for-profit energy developer Sharenergy has launched a new initiative offering local communities the opportunity to support wind projects in Wales and Scotland through stable investment bonds and shares; without the intervention from energy companies that people "don't trust".

Cooperative members of the Small Wind Coop will be able to benefit from domestic use of the energy generated at community turbines at Troed y Bryn in Ceredigion, Wales and Wemyss Bay, Inverclyde, Scotland if they sign up to Co-operative Energy for their energy supply.

People and businesses are encouraged to invest between £100 to £100,000 in the scheme, which will generate a community fund of £3,000 a year for 20 years at each location, to support local projects that bring social, economic and environmental benefits to each area.

Small Wind Coop’s director Jon Halle said: “We know that people don’t trust the big energy companies, which is why we are a small co-operative, which is completely owned and run by our members – no ‘fat cats’ here.  And we know that people want to support renewable energy in the UK directly – so we set up the Small Wind Coop to make that possible.”

‘Exciting opportunity’

Small Wind Coop will offer investment bonds which have a return rate of 4.5% and will be repaid after six years, in addition to shares which offer a projected average annual return of 6.5 % over 20 years and entitle people to become members of the co-operative.

Sharenergy has previously helped set up more than 30 community energy projects throughout the UK in its bid to ensure that communities can take ownership of generating their own power. The firm has echoed the views of community energy developers across the UK who says that proposed Government cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) would put their current projects at risk.

“This could be one of the last chances to join a community wind cooperative following recent changes in Government support,” Sharenergy’s community renewables adviser Leila Sharland said. “And as well as supporting ordinary UK farmers in Wales and Scotland, we’re offering our members a new way to connect the energy they are helping to generate with the energy they use at home or work. It’s a really exciting opportunity to be part of a new UK energy democracy.”

Subsidy cuts

The news comes on the same day that Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced a new collaborative initiative designed to generate renewable electricity from solar panels installed on the retailer’s stores.

A surge of community solar farms were recently connected to the grid, representing the last renewable energy projects to qualify for Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy entitlement.

The decision to scrap the RO scheme has faced criticism from opposition parties and renewable energy experts who have said it could cost the UK up to £3bn in lost investments. Community energy has been vocally supported by energy ministers in Wales and Scotland and the shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy.

George Ogleby

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