Renewable platform Ripple Energy has secured £1.1m in funding from the Welsh government to help build the UK’s first-ever consumer-owned wind farm, set to be completed in autumn 2021.
A further £1.8m loan has been agreed in principle from the Development Bank of Wales which can be drawn down in the summer, subject to certain conditions. Ripple’s customers have contributed just over £1.3m to the project, on which they will see returns via savings to their household electricity bill.
Graig Fatha wind farm, near Coedely in South Wales, will be owned by an initial 675 households who have already signed up. All members will receive green electricity directly from their share of the wind farm later this year, saving up to 25% on their electricity bills each year across the wind farm’s 25-year lifetime.
Further households can sign up to the Ripple platform and purchase a share of the windfarm from as little as £25.
Income generated from the Welsh government’s supported portion of the wind farm will be channelled towards initiatives supporting people facing fuel poverty in the local area, through the wind farm’s Community Benefit Fund (CBF).
Sarah Merrick, CEO and founder of Ripple Energy, said: “We’re hugely grateful to the Welsh government for its involvement in making that a reality. For too long, people have been sidelined; now they can share the benefits of green energy direct. This is just the beginning of us putting the power in the hands of household consumers.”
David Clubb, director, Graig Fatha Co-operative, said: “The project will create a fund to help alleviate fuel poverty in the local area, and I’m very grateful for the Welsh Government support that has enabled Graig Fatha to proceed.”
Lesley Griffiths, the minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to support the Graig Fatha wind farm project. Renewable generation in Wales has increased 200% since 2010, and last year renewables produced enough energy to meet half of Wales’ electricity needs.
“We are close to our goal of having 1GW-worth of energy production in local hands, with 825MW of renewable energy capacity owned locally. As such, projects such as Graig Fatha, and the model of community ownership of energy schemes, play a crucial role in our move towards becoming a carbon net zero nation by 2050.
“It is also vitally important that renewable energy is not just environmentally friendly, but affordable – particularly as we look to tackle fuel poverty and do all we can to help households meet the cost of their energy bills.”
Income received by the Community Benefit Fund will primarily focus on addressing fuel poverty in the local area around the wind farm, alongside community-directed environmental projects. Local partners will be used to deliver funds to ensure the best needs of the community are met and understood. A secondary allocation will be given to national charity, the Fuel Bank Foundation (FBF), which provides support for people in fuel crisis. This element of the CBF can be viewed as addressing the other end of the fuel poverty cycle, helping those who find themselves in crisis despite the best endeavours of other programmes.
Ripple has partnered with Co-op Energy, powered by Octopus Energy to get the electricity from the wind farm to its owners’ homes. Customers can switch to Co-op Energy when they join the scheme. Existing Co-op Energy and Octopus Energy customers are also invited to take part. Once the wind farm is operational, savings from their wind farm will be applied to their electricity bill.
You can sign up to the scheme on Ripple’s website: www.rippleenergy.com
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