Isle of Wight’s solar array

Wight Community Energy raises over £5m to bring solar array into community ownership

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 28 June 2016

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Wight Community Energy (WCE) has signed a deal with the Isle of Wight Council that will bring the community energy organisation’s funds to over £5 million, enough to bring a 3.95MWp solar array into community ownership.

The additional £1.7 million of funding adds to a £2.88 million loan from Close Brothers Bank and over £460,000 in crowdfunded investments from the community.

WCE’s share scheme – which projects annual returns of up to 7% – is still open for private investors through Ethex, the ethical fundraising platform.

The funding from the council takes the total raised to 93% of the project’s target, with the community energy organisation now embarking on its final push for investment in the solar array.

The project

WCE forecasts £2.4m will be generated for its social benefit fund over the project’s 20-year running life, financing carbon reduction, energy efficiency and fuel poverty reduction programmes on the island.

‘We’re delighted the council has joined over 100 private investors, which includes the Footprint Trust sustainability charity, to help bring this array into community ownership. By doing this, it helps bring investment into the community and fund much-needed initiatives that help our most needy.’

COLIN PALMER
Chairman of WCE

The 3.95MW array, which is already built at Homestead Farm to the north of Newbridge, will generate 4.68MWh of renewable power each year – enough to support over 1,300 typical homes.

The site’s income through the Feed in Tariff is fixed for 20 years and not affected by recent government moves to reduce tariffs. The income from the sale of electricity is then used to pay interest on members’ shares, with a target of up to a 7% return, and to fund the community benefit scheme.

Council investment

The council’s executive member for economic sustainability, Councillor Ian Stephens, said the funding demonstrates the council’s commitment to the environment and renewable energy on the island. The council will receive a £204,000 return plus its original investment after two years.

‘We view it as an excellent investment for the Island – and it has been funded as a growth project from our capital receipts, with the support of the council’s Scrutiny Committee, Executive and Full Council.’

COUNCILLOR IAN STEPHENS
Isle of Wight Council’s executive member for economic sustainability

Breaking the £5 million barrier puts WCE into its final funding push, with the offer set to end on 30 June.

Click here to find out more about the Homestead Farm community energy project.

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