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Leapfrog Finance Funds Construction of Plymouth Energy Community’s Ernesettle Solar Project

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Leapfrog Finance is proud to announce its funding of the construction of a 4.1MW solar project co-developed by Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) and Communities for Renewables CIC. The brown-field site is located in Ernesettle, North West of the city centre, on the river Tamar, between a sewage works and a Royal Navy munitions depot. The project will generate income to support the work of PEC, tackling fuel poverty, and The Four Greens Community Trust (FGCT), where part of the trust’s role is to create local jobs, enterprise and training, for an area with traditionally low economic participation.

Leapfrog Finance was launched in 2015 with a fund of £15m from Big Society Capital. Its mission is to fund the construction or acquisition of community energy projects that deliver positive social impact for local communities. Leapfrog was supported on the Ernesettle deal by Louisa Cilenti at Lux Nova Partners and Mark Stewart and Jamie Davidson at RSM International.

PEC’s primary mission is to give the people of Plymouth the power to transform how they buy, use and generate power in the city. In essence, it’s all about people power, focusing around three core energy goals: reducing energy bills; improving energy efficiency; generating a green energy supply in the city. Alleviating fuel poverty is an integral part of achieving these goals.

The Four Greens Community Trust (FGCT) is a new trust, serving the areas of Ernesettle, Honicknowle, West Park, Manadon and Whitleigh in the north of the city where there is a high concentration of low wages and deprivation.

Communities for Renewables (CfR) CIC provided risk investment, commercial advice and project management support and worked with the PEC team to deliver the project through feasibility, development, procurement and financing.

Pfalzsolar played a major role in the technical and economic success of the project. In 2015 alone, the 100% subsidiary of a German community and local authority owned energy supplier, Pfalzsolar constructed photovoltaic projects with an overall capacity of 35.5 megawatts, half of which was in the UK. Pfalzsolar has planned, built and operated photovoltaic plants since 2003, and is a committed partner for investors, commercial and private customers, and especially for communities.

Richard O’Rourke, Managing Director, of Leapfrog Finance said: “This project exemplifies wonderfully what can be achieved through community-owned renewable energy assets, and is a model for what Leapfrog Finance wants to deliver through its fund. Forecast to deliver over £1m of community benefit over the life of the project, delivering social impact across a wide spectrum of issues in the community, it’s a model we’d like to see replicated across the country.”

Candice Motran, Investment Director at Big Society Capital, said: “Across the UK we are seeing a growing number of communities coming together to develop energy projects. These are not only tackling issues such as fuel poverty, but also creating sustainable income streams for those communities at a time when grants are dwindling. Leapfrog Finance are experts in this area and have done a fantastic job in supporting this project to fruition. We hope that Plymouth Energy Community will inspire other organisations to think creatively in the future.”

Alistair Macpherson, Chief Executive at Plymouth Energy Community, said: “We are hugely proud to be watching our solar farm come to life.  This was the project that many said would not be built; and to see it realised is a great credit to those that have had the vision to support us. Plymouth City Council, CfR, PfalzSolar, and Leapfrog Finance, should all take a bow in this regard.  Local residents have been at the heart of this project from the outset and Leapfrog’s construction finance keeps alive our chances of it remaining a long term community asset.”

Tom Cosgrove, Development Manager at Communities for Renewables CIC, said: “We have gone from feasibility to commissioning in 12 months, and have overcome some big challenges along the way, including Government policy changes that threatened the viability of keeping the project in community ownership. It has been a mammoth effort from all involved and the team has worked really well together. The Ernesettle solar project is a great legacy for Plymouth and a flagship community energy project for the South West.”

Thomas Kercher, CEO of Pfalzsolar, said: “It’s a pleasure and special honour for us to work with Leapfrog Finance and we’re really proud to be a part of this great project. It’s inspiring to see how communities in Great Britain are pushing forward the energy turnaround. Even though Pfalzsolar was confronted with bad weather conditions at the Ernesettle site, they pulled out all the stops to get everything in place on time.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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