Macro mayhem post-Brexit is having plenty of unforeseen circumstances. One is that in the absence of unity at the top of society, people are turning to their local communities for feelings of security.
Community energy is one example of local groups ignoring the nonsense in the newspapers and coming together to do something good for their area.
Plymouth Energy Community is a winning example. Since it launched in 2013 with 100 members, it now has 1,200 members, operates a switching and advice service, affordable or free insulation and boiler schemes and a fuel debt advice service, among other things.
Since 2014, it has also run the PEC Renewables Community Benefit Society with the aim of funding and building community-owned renewable energy installations across the city. This includes providing 30 schools and community buildings with free solar panels.
In March this year a 4.1MW solar array became operational and now generates enough clean energy to meet the annual needs of 1,000 homes. And it has now opened up investment to people near and far with the launch of a £1.2m share issue available via the PEC website and the Ethex platform. The minimum investment is £50 and the forecast return is 6 per cent annually.
But if the British riviera feels a little too distant for you, if you live elsewhere, that might be other schemes closer to home. Check out these:
- Bath and West Community Energy is currently looking to raise £2.6m through a community share and bond issue to purchase for the community a 5MW solar array near Crewkerne in Somerset. The bond has a 2-year fixed rate of 5.5 per cent.
- Ferry Farm Community Solar Ltd is a community benefit society that has been established to help fund and manage a 5MW community-owned solar farm at Ferry Farm near Selsey, West Sussex. The share offer has a forecast return of 6 per cent a year.
- Wight Community Energy are seeking £800,000 towards financing a 3.95MW ground-mounted solar park near Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight. This share raise has a forecast return of 7 per cent a year, pro rata for a partial first year.
- Ecossol PV is looking to raise just over £1m to refinance a portfolio of around 320 domestic roof-mounted solar installations across the north east. All systems within the portfolio were installed under the Green Deal scheme before the end of August 2015 and are generating electricity today. From Abundance, this has an Internal Rate of Return of 7 per cent a year for 19 years.
Alistair McPherson, CEO of Plymouth Energy Community says: ‘The sheer number of community schemes available for investment currently points to the growing health of and mainstream interest in the sector.’
We say, if you believe local communities are key to our future as a good society as well as for the planet, not to mention -post-Brexit – economically, why not include such options in your portfolio?
Just be aware that you should not invest more than you would be prepared to lose, as these schemes carry risks, which are laid out in the offer document, such as the risk you will not get back all of your capital. As with all community share or bond issues the returns are not guaranteed nor are they covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.