Crowdfunding platform to energise community renewables
UK ethical investment platform Abundance has launched a new service to encourage communities to invest in local renewable energy projects.
The 'shared ownership' service will offer communities a stake in local solar and wind projects, along with advice and financial support to help renewable energy developers engage and mobilise those stakeholders.
The announcement comes in the wake of a concerted push by Decc to increase uptake of community-owned renewables across the country. Last month, Ed Davey announced a £10m cash injection for the Urban Community Energy Fund, while the Green Investment Bank also announced a £200m lending programme for community-scale renewable energy projects in the UK.
Speaking of this new service, Abundance joint managing director Karl Harder said: ""We are reducing the risk and cost of raising capital, creating a meaningful return for developers and investors, whilst building stakeholders in renewables crucial to support projects through planning and beyond.
"It's win-win for developers seeking new avenues for finance and local investors looking for ownership and a return from local renewable energy projects. With investments starting at £5, our aim is to see high quality renewable energy developments providing clean power and a return to anyone who wants to be involved in this new, positive economy."
The Oakapple Berwickshire solar project floated on Abundance is a good example of the potential of shared ownership projects.
Local housing association tenants will have solar panels installed on their roofs, which will help reduce energy bills by up to 30%, while investors should enjoy an annual return of 7% over the 20 year scheme.
Stewart Lowther, managing director of environmental consultancy firm Atmos Consulting, said that community renewables were an exciting prospect as they are more easily realized than vast offshore wind and tidal energy projects.
"The simple fact is that these [large-scale] technologies are unlikely to be fully deliverable on a timescale that will enable us to meet our renewable energy targets," he said.
"These targets remain legally binding, no matter what the political climate is. The gap can be minimised by smaller, community-scale projects, provided they get the right funding support.