Westmill Solar Cooperative has raised £1 million less than two weeks after launching a share offer in its solar farm just outside Swindon in southeast England.
The 30-acre Westmill solar farm at Watchfield houses over 21,000 polycrystalline solar cells with a capacity of 4.8 GWh of electricity annually.
The share offer, which has already attracted more than 270 individuals, allows investors to put from £250 to £20,000 into the solar farm, which will produce enough electricity to power 1400 homes and offset around 2000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
“I am delighted we have reached this milestone so quickly, which shows the support for the project and our aims,” says chair of Westmill Solar Cooperative Philip Wolfe.
Shareholders will receive a long-term 25-year, inflation-linked return on their investment, which will benefit from highest rate of the government’s feed-in tariff because it was completed last August before cuts to the scheme.
Returns are expected to average at 11% a year over the 25 years, starting at 9% a year for the first eight years, before ramping up to 22% for the subsequent eight years and 43% in the final period.
The organisers hope to raise £4 million equity from the share offer and are also working with investment bank Investec on a bond for the debt required to purchase the £15 million project from seed investor Blue Energy.
The offer will close at the end of the month or sooner if the scheme is oversubscribed.
“We are expecting continued strong demand, as morepeople hear about this rare opportunity. We advise anyone considering investing to do so soon,” says Wolfe.
Director of Westmill Solar, Adam Twine, a local organic farmer, has also set-up a community-owned wind farm on the same site, which raised £4.3 million in its share offer in 2007 and has 2300 members.
For further information:
UK community solar farm offer opens for business (25-Jun)
Community-owned solar farm plans share offer (30-May)
UK’s largest community-owned wind farm seeks go ahead (10-May)
Community renewables projects compete for £25,000 energyshare fund (13-Apr)
05 July 2012