A share offer to transfer a successful Shropshire solar farm into community ownership – and help generate millions of pounds to fund local projects – has already raised nearly £60,000.
Community Benefit Society Shropshire and Telford Community Energy (STCE) formally launched the offer for Twemlows solar farm at a special event next to the site near Whitchurch yesterday (August 8).
The offer, which has been live for a week, has already attracted 24 investors and raised £57,170.
The share offer will enable local people who care about climate change to put their money to work to tackle the issue directly, earn a fair return on their investment, and greatly increase the solar farm’s economic contribution to the local area.
STCE is one of five community energy groups from across England and Wales to have joined forces under the Community Energy Together banner to launch share offers for a total of seven operational solar farms in the first scheme of its kind in the UK.
Twemlows has been operating successfully since 2016. It is a 10MW solar farm which can power the equivalent of 3,400 homes, helping save more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and which has generated nearly £100,000 of community funding to date.
Dave Green, from STCE, said the launch represented a huge opportunity for people to get involved in the transition to Net Zero and massively increase the amount of money the Twemlows site would generate for community projects.
“This is a really exciting day for STCE and Twemlows solar farm. The share offer means individuals will be able to invest directly and earn a fair target return of 6% with a low minimum investment of £250 – whilst supporting a vital source of green energy and helping to raise cash for some fantastic community projects.
“Our target is to raise £730,000. Bringing Twemlows into community ownership will enable us to distribute around £4.5million in community benefit over the next 18 years, including
setting up new community energy schemes.
“The Twemlows share offer is not just supporting a cleaner, greener and fairer future, it will directly benefit local community projects for many years to come.”
STCE chair, Robert Saunders, added: “Community owned energy gives individuals the vital opportunity to play a part in the clean energy transition beyond just being a consumer. STCE is in great company with four like-minded Community Benefit Societies. Whilst owning our individual solar farms, we are committed to working together and supporting each other so that we can benefit from each other’s expertise, experience and share knowledge and lessons along the way.”
Overall, Community Energy Together will fund the transfer of seven operational solar farms into community ownership, saving a combined 317,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetimes of the solar farms, which have a collective capacity of 36MW – enough to power the equivalent of 12,750 homes.
Bringing the seven solar farms into community ownership will increase the capacity of community owned solar energy in England and Wales by approximately 20%. Over the projects’ lifetime it will generate a collective community benefit fund of around £20 million to support local social and environmental projects and develop new community renewable projects.
An innovative cross-collateralised finance model has been created by the current owner of the solar farm portfolio, Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE), a partnership set up by Big Society Capital and Power to Change to oversee the transfer of solar farms into community ownership. The model reduces the cost of borrowing and spreads risk, thereby increasing the size of the community benefit pot.