WestMill Solar will attempt to become the UK’s first community-owned solar energy farm this weekend.
Investors will be able to apply for shares in the project, from £250 to £20,000 on 23 June 2012. Each member will have an equal say, will be involved in the decision making process and will be eligible to join the board.
Mark Shorrock from Low Carbon Solar and Adam Twine of WestMill farm first came up with the idea of creating a solar energy co-operative a year ago. The five directors that currently run SolarMill are Mark Shorrock, Adam Twine, Philip Wolfe, Mark Luntley and Nicola McConville.
They aim to raise £4.2 million from the share offer and buy the solar park from the initial investors in order to create the UK’s first large scale community field scale Solar Photovoltaic Project (PV) project.The solar farm has already been built. The 30-acre site generates 4.8 GWh of clean electricity per year, and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.3 million tones each year.
Referring to the share offer, Adam Twine, organic farmer and a founder director of Westmill Solar, said: “We are very pleased that at last we can make local community ownership of Westmill solar farm a possibility. It’s not very often you have a chance to do something that is good for the environment and make money.”
Westmill Solar Farm will have the same community-ownership model as Westmill Wind Farm, a similar co-operative created in 2007, with over 2,000 investors. The project will also provide annual payments to local community projects via community group WeSET.
The launch of the share offer will take place at the solar farm outside Watchfield, near Shrivenham and local MP Ed Vaizey, also Minister for culture, will be the one launching the share offer. The fair will include activities for the whole family and those interested will be able to see how the solar farm is working, grab a prospectus or talk to the current five directors of the solar farm.
The launch of the shares will be a sustainable energy fair, opened to anyone wishing to attend, with many activities taking place on the day. These will include a cycling race, a sustainable cooking seminar, children’s activities and music.