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Number of UK Community Energy Projects Surges



It’s been noticed recently that there has been a sharp rise in the number of community energy projects being launched. Government support has changed and many community groups are looking to gain advantages of the Feed-in Tariff subsidy before it is no longer available.

While investors are understandably concerned about the Brexit-caused declining value of sterling, stock-market volatility and the prospect of future interest-rate cuts, community energy tends to be immune to those factors and is underpinned by a subsidy which is stable and guaranteed for the long term of 20 years.

Sharenergy, a non-profit community energy facilitator based in Shrewsbury, is currently listing four different solar and wind projects across the UK on its website. They range from rooftop solar panels near Manchester to farm-scale wind turbines in Scotland and Wales.

Jon Halle, Director of Sharenergy, said: “Brexit showed that huge numbers of people are unhappy with established structures across the board. Supporting and joining community energy co-operatives is a genuinely democratic way to harness some of that anti-authoritarianism for good. And people like the tangible nature of renewables, the fact that the financial model is underpinned by a guaranteed government subsidy and the feeling that they are using their cash to empower positive change.

“Supporting these projects is really simple – for example with just a few clicks on the Crowdfunder website you can buy shares or bonds in the Small Wind Coop which is promoting farm-scale wind turbines in Wales and Scotland.”

Projects currently being promoted by Sharenergy:

  • The Small Wind Coop is raising over £1.5 million to fund three farm-scale turbines in Scotland and Wales using a mixture of 6–year bonds paying a fixed 4.5% return and shares for full membership, and longer term investment with projected 6.5% IRR.
  • Oldham Community Power is aiming to raise £650,000 to install 600kW of PV on over 15 schools and community buildings in the town, through a share offer with an IRR of 4%. They need to raise funds and complete as soon as possible to get the best rates from the declining Feed-in Tariff.
  • Greater Manchester Community Renewables are raising £140,000 to install 150kW of PV panels across a range of buildings used by voluntary and community groups in the city, through a share offer with an IRR of 3.5 to 5%. Sites are pre-registered for the feed-in tariff and must install by September.
  • Carmarthenshire Wind are looking to raise up to £1 million to repay debt on a 500kW wind turbine which has already been built, through a share offer paying 5.6% IRR.

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