Southill Solar Farm gets Green Light

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A world-leading solar company has pledged construction finance to Southill community solar farm. The pledge from Solarcentury now means the project will definitely go ahead. Construction of the project is expected to begin this summer.

With the latest government statistics showing support for solar is at record highs, the future of Southill community solar farm near Charlbury has been assured as world-leading solar business Solarcentury has agreed to provide construction finance.

Construction work will start in July so the solar farm should be generating power by September. The directors of Southill Community Energy have therefore decided to extend the share offer during construction to May 31, to allow more people to invest.

Liz Reason, Director at Southill Community Energy, said: “We’re very grateful to Solarcentury, a fantastic British business which is a world-leader in solar technology, for supporting our project by providing construction finance. This makes our financial model even stronger and gives added confidence to investors that 100 per cent of their money will be used to see the solar farm through to success.

“Solar is now officially the most popular renewable energy technology in the UK, and we’ve been thrilled with the strong local response we’ve had to our share offer so far. We’ve extended the offer to give more people the chance do something positive for climate change, their local community and earn a fair return of five per cent.”

Over £970,000 has already been invested in the project, which has a target fundraise of £1.4 million, with 80 per cent coming from people within Oxfordshire, although the project has also attracted investment from as far afield as Spain and Germany. The youngest investor is 16 and the oldest is 87. In addition to the construction finance from Solarcentury, bank funding, loans from other co-operatives and an underwriting facility from social impact investors Resonance will make up the balance of the £4.1 million construction costs.

The projected average annual return to investors is five percent over the 25 year lifetime of the solar farm. The minimum investment is £250 and the maximum is £100,000. SCE will also return around £750,000 over the solar farm’s lifetime to the local community to support schemes tackling fuel poverty, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

Southill attracted national headlines when Prime Minister David Cameron recently endorsed the solar farm, applauding local people’s enthusiasm for community solar and highlighting the importance of the technology in the UK’s energy mix.

Southill Community Energy, a community benefit society, launched its share offer in February to fund construction of the 4.5 MegaWatt community solar farm on the Cornbury Park estate, just outside Charlbury, Oxfordshire.

It will generate enough electricity for around 1100 typical homes – equivalent to most of the houses in the three closest settlements of Charlbury, Finstock and Fawler. It will also be used to promote biodiversity with a bespoke ecological plan including planting fruit trees and wildflower meadows nearby and Southill honey.

The solar farm was granted planning consent in July 2015. It has been pre-accredited for the Feed-in Tariff and will be one of the last community solar schemes to be guaranteed the subsidy since government support was slashed at the start of the year.

Investing is quick and easy via the online positive investment and savings platform here. Alternatively investors can complete an application form in the share offer document which can be downloaded from the website.