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Solar farms to deliver over £2m for local community projects

Solar farms to deliver over £2m for local community projects

Communities in Shropshire, Kent and Isle of Wight will receive over £2m over 20 years from surplus profits generated by solar power, all of which can be invested in local projects.

Three solar farms in those areas are being invested in by Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE). This £40m investment partnership between Power to Change and Big Society Capital invests in solar farms on behalf of communities.

CORE has invested £12m in three solar farms with a combined capacity of 12MW and aims to transfer all three into full community ownership over the next three years.

Surplus profits generated by each solar farm will be handed over to their local community over 20 years.

  • CORE’s refinancing of Sherrifhales, a 3.2MW solar farm in Shifnal, Shropshire, will provide at least £700,000 for Sherrifhales Community Energy to invest in local community projects.
  • The CORE investment in Orchard 2, a 5MW solar farm near Sittingbourne, Kent, is expected to deliver at least £1.2m to support disadvantaged communities in Kent.
  • The debt restructuring by CORE for Homestead, a 3.7MW solar farm near Newport on the Isle of Wight, has secured £700,000 of community shares bought in large part by local residents. This will enable Wight Community Energy to invest at least £360,000 for the benefit of their local community.

CORE’s first asset, the 5MW solar farm Newton Downs, near Plymouth in Devon, was acquired from Good Energy in December 2017 and has already distributed £20,000 to local causes including schools, environmental projects and community housing.

Peter Bonsall, Chairman of Sherrifhales Community Energy Company said: “The church, village school and village hall are already benefiting from funds allocated to their projects so far. Other active projects are underway such as distributing LED lightbulbs to our parishioners and starting a regular transport project for those in need to visit local shopping facilities”.

Colin Palmer, Chairman of Wight Community Energy said: “Wight Community Energy’s Homestead solar project was struggling financially under the terms imposed by the original lenders, so we are very pleased to have secured a refinancing package from CORE. In addition to now being able to distribute community funds, we are pleased to become linked to organisations specialising in supporting social enterprises like ours. We are looking forward to a future collaboration that will be much more than the simple banking relationship.”

 

More investment opportunities

CORE is currently seeking further investment opportunities which can be transferred into community ownership.

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive at Power to Change said: “We are delighted that our investment in CORE enables communities to use the significant funds generated by solar farms to address local priorities and benefit local people. Going forward, we will support each community to raise the money necessary to take full ownership of these assets so they remain in community hands for the long term.”

 

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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