We’re excited to share that this week we signed agreements that add £3.95 million of funding for our community energy projects. This takes the total raised since its November launch to £9 million.
This sum is being used to add 9.3 MWp of community-owned solar generation capacity to the UK’s grid. Upon construction of its final array in June 2016 we’ll become the UK’s largest generator of community energy.Our portfolio, including projects under development, includes a 4.6 MWp operational ground array at Puriton. Somerset, around 20 roof-top arrays on community buildings across Bristol, and a 4.2 MWp site at Lawrence Weston, which is starting construction and due for completion in June.
This new wave of finance comes from Triodos Bank, Bristol City Council and Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) and will be used specifically to fund the construction of the Lawrence Weston solar farm.
This adds to £2.34 million already raised through crowdfunded bond and share offers, and £2.68 million from Close Brothers Bank.
We have two crowdfunded offers currently open for public investment:
– a 2-year fixed-term bond offer – which offers up to 6% pa returns on investments over £500 made before 3 May.
– a share offer which offers up to 5% pa returns on investments between £50 and £100,000 made before 31 May.
All projects will be operational in time to receive the government’s 2015 (higher) feed in tariff (FiT) rate for 20 years. Based on each site’s average annual duration of sunshine, our portfolio is predicted to generate 8,830 MWh per year of clean energy – the equivalent of powering around 2,400 typical UK homes.
Profits from the sites’ energy generation will be used to fund £4 million of social projects across Bristol and Somerset – for example fighting energy poverty or increasing homes’ energy efficiency.
Both offers are available through the positive investment and savings investment platform, Ethex.
One of our directors, Andy O’Brien said: “With 9.3 MWp of renewable capacity, we will become the UK’s largest generator of community energy. However, this is a fast-growing and essential part of the UK’s energy mix, so we can’t wait to be overtaken as more community owned capacity is added to the national grid.
“The addition of finance from Bristol City Council, along with SASC and Triodos Bank, highlights the strength of the BEC offer and adds to the investment from Close Brothers Bank. Over £2.2 million has also been raised through previous bond and share offers.
“We expect two principal types of investors to be interested in the bond: local investors who want an ability to back an ethical, renewable energy project that puts back into the community; and those who simply want a better rate than you’d get in an ISA or savings account.”
Mareike Schmidt, Bristol City Council’s Energy Service Manager said: “We’re delighted to be able to part-finance such a large community initiative in the city. Bristol Energy Co-op has been doing excellent work in raising the necessary funds to ensure this project’s success and as a council we want to enable projects like this through grid connections and financial support wherever we can.”
Philip Bazin, Environment Team Manager at Triodos Bank said: “As one of the leading community energy lenders in the UK, we are proud to have provided loan finance for this ground-breaking sustainable development. Not only will the project help contribute to renewable energy production in the UK, but it will create much needed social investment in the local area. This scheme will allow the community to shape its own long-term future and we are delighted to be supporting Mongoose Energy, Bristol Energy Co-op and Bristol City Council.”
Ben Rick, co-founder and chief executive of Social and Sustainable Capital, added: “We are delighted to support BEC in becoming the UK’s largest generator of community energy. Following recent policy changes, we have been asked to consider investing in several renewable energy schemes through our Community Investment Fund. With BEC, and with the support of our partners at Power to Change, we are delighted to make our first investment into this sector given the embedded social benefit and distribution of surpluses directly to local community organisations such as Ambition Lawrence Weston. We look forward to working closely with BEC in the coming months and years and hope to support many more organisations generating high environmental and social impact in their communities.”