This article first appeared in our spring ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Conscious Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 04 May 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
In June 2017, the UK got its first dedicated community energy crowdfunding platform. With it came a new opportunity for investors to support a booming community energy sector while pocketing the tax benefits offered by Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs).
Following the fundraising success of the investment opportunities launched on Mongoose Crowd last year, activity on the platform is being ramped up for 2018. This year, Mongoose Crowd will launch seven new bond and equity offers in its biggest wave of activity to date.
Together, these offers provide investment opportunities of almost £7m – money that will be reinvested in renewable energy projects that create additional environmental, social and financial benefits for local communities.
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£1m bond offer in Stratford-upon Avon
On 29 March, Mongoose Crowd launched a £1m bond offer with Heart of England Community Energy. The fundraiser is an opportunity to invest in the UK’s largest community-owned solar energy project, based just outside Stratford-upon Avon.
The 75-acre solar farm is roughly the size of 50 football pitches. It comprises 60,000 solar panels – that’s two for every person who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon – and generates enough energy to power 4,500 houses. £2,700,000 of the profits generated over the project’s lifetime will be shared with good causes in the community.
The bond offer was set up by Warwickshire locals and is being managed by Mongoose Energy. The annual target interest rates are 5% over four years, plus an extra 1% for those who sign up and invest before the first half of the target funds are raised.
All the funds raised will be used to generate renewable energy, and all surplus profits will be donated to community projects. As an example, an intended minimum of £30,000 per year over 25 years will be shared with causes that help to improve the health of elderly and vulnerable people living in cold and damp homes, helping them to reduce their energy bills and improve heating and insulation.
Invest in green Scottish power
Mongoose Crowd is also hosting bond and equity offers for Our Community Energy (OCE), a new community energy group co-founded by Mongoose Energy and Our Power, a UK not-for-profit energy supplier set up to tackle fuel poverty. The target is to raise £2,875,000 for two community-owned renewable energy projects based in Pogbie, East Lothian, and Brockholes, Berwickshire. £1.5m of the profits will be shared with Our Power to support its work to provide affordable energy for the fuel poor.
The inflation-linked target interest rates are currently 6.6% and 8.1% (respectively) over 20 years, plus an extra 1% interest for those who sign up before the first half of the target funds are raised.
The two projects, which will comprise nine wind turbines, will be able to generate over 7MW of energy. All the funds raised will be used to generate renewable energy, with surplus profits used to help those suffering from fuel poverty. An intended minimum of £25,000 per year over 20 years will be donated to the cause.
‘It is more important now than ever for investors to put their money into causes that work for the social good, not just their own.’
CEO of Mongoose Energy
The Heart of England Community Energy and OCE offers also include an Innovative Finance ISA option. This means investors can take advantage of the higher rate of interest compared with cash ISAs.
As well as the financial benefits, investors get the bonus of knowing their money is being used solely to deliver positive change in the community – in areas ranging from tackling fuel poverty to improving the living conditions of the elderly and the vulnerable.
To coincide with the launch of the new bond offers, Mongoose Energy conducted research that points to a surge in the popularity of investing to ‘do good’, and a growing demand for transparency about how invested money is used.
The research reveals almost two-thirds (60%) of today’s consumers would prefer their investment to make a positive impact on others. This is a growing trend, with a fifth (21%) of respondents saying they are more likely to invest in this type of fund now than they were five years ago.
According to the research, renewable energy and ethical investments are two of the preferred options for achieving a positive impact; 22% say they’ll consider investing in each of these types of product over the next year.
‘The findings of our research show an increasingly purpose-minded public of all ages seeking out alternative ways to invest their money’, says Mark Kenber, CEO of Mongoose Energy. ‘Their investment choices are no longer driven solely by high rates of return but also by a desire for tangible, positive impact on local communities.’
According to Mark, this shift has been fuelled by a growing awareness that making ethical choices doesn’t mean sacrificing returns. We’re becoming more aware of the impact of investment choices and we’re also broadly supportive of the UK’s climate change agenda.
‘With the public now demanding that their money is invested in ways beneficial to a broader group than just themselves’, he said, ‘2018 is showing all the signs of being the year that investing in community energy goes mainstream.’