Community energy solar raise £7.8m in month as EIS tax relief for clean-energy investments removed

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A record £7.821 million has been invested in community energy solar projects by the British public in the month following the Treasury’s removal of Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief on community energy projects.

15 community benefit societies (bencoms) running solar projects across the UK have announced their fundraising totals, with four funds securing investments of over £1 million for their share offers.

With £4.806 million, funds run in association with community energy investment firm Mongoose Energy made up 61% of all funds raised for solar community energy projects and its five funds were all in the top six.

Topping the list of bencoms were Sussex’s Meadow Blue and Bath and West, which respectively raised £1.248 and £1.243 million. Nottinghamshire Community Energy followed closely behind with £1.171 million. Edinburgh Community Energy, with £1 million, completes the top four.

Jan Willem Bode of Mongoose Energy – which worked with Meadow Blue, Bath and West, and Nottinghamshire – said: “This exceptional rate of investment in community renewable projects shows there is wide-scale support for community energy to be a significant player in the industry in the UK. With it happening within a week of the announced plan to shut coal-fired stations, I think we will look back at this moment and realise this is the beginning of truly locally owned, low carbon power.

”While the removal of EIS is an odd blow for George Osborne to land on the same day as the UN Climate Change Conference, it has helped to raise awareness and interest in these opportunities and these investment figures shows that people want to invest in ethical, local energy sources.”

Jamie Hartzell, Chair of ethical investment platform, Ethex, says: “We are really pleased to see the huge groundswell of support for community energy schemes over recent weeks. Over a third of the total investment raised — £4.8million – was in to the six share offers listed on Ethex. Last Wednesday we saw over £1million investment raised in just 24 hours! It has involved a lot of hard work – well done to all those concerned. We hope this interest continues with the new community energy share offers we have listed on Ethex the first week of December, albeit without tax reliefs.”

Emma Bridge of Community Energy England said: “Community Energy plays a key part in helping to add renewable energy capacity whilst also enabling programmes such as those that reduce energy poverty. This investment level is fantastic and really demonstrates the level of support that there is for community energy and the extra benefits it brings.”

The 15 solar projects to announce their figures are:

Location, Community Benefit society, Capacity, Target Return, Amount raised (£)

West Sussex, Meadow Blue Community Energy, 5MWp, 7%, £1,247,587

Bath, Bath and West Community Energy, 250kWp, 7%, 1,243,150

Nottinghamshire, Nottinghamshire Community Energy, 5MWp, 7%, £1,171,600

Edinburgh, Edinburgh Solar Cooperative, 1.5MWp, 5%, £1,000,000

Bristol, Bristol Energy Cooperative,  9.3MWp, 5%, £621,729

Kent, Orchard Solar, 5MWp, 7%, £522,000

Shropshire, Nadder Community Energy, 440KWp, 5%, £476,500

Exeter, Exeter Community Energy, 300kWp, 5%, £390,000

Dorset, Dorset Community Energy, 290kWp, 7.40%, £352,200

London, South East London, 200kWp, 4%, £250,000

Leicestershire, Harborough Energy, 5MWp, 5%, £183,600

Milton Keynes, Wolverton Community Energy, TBC, 5.50%, £182,884

Maidenhead, Maid Energy, 90KWp, 4.30% £97,950

Shropshire, Pomona Solar, 50kWp, 5.85%, £70,000

Swansea, Gower Power, TBC, 6.50%, £12,400