The potential for community energy is huge. Community energy allows ordinary people to contribute to the fight against climate change in a practical way, usually through open and democratic co-operatives and, at the same time, make a reasonable financial return on their money.
Energy4All is a not-for-profit social enterprise, with a unique track record of facilitating community engagement and ownership of renewable energy generation across the UK. Neither Energy4All nor the co-ops it sets up are reliant on public money or grants, in keeping with the co-operative principle of self reliance.
Established by the Baywind Energy Co-operative (the first renewable energy co-op in the UK) in 2002, Energy4All has launched an additional nine new community co-operatives, raising more than £20 million in equity through regulated public share offers.
This shows what can be done when people get together and are ambitious about renewable energy. Aggregate membership of Energy4All co-ops is over 8,500, making Energy4All the largest organisation in the sector, but much more is possible. Again in line with co-op principles, Energy4All actively encourages each co-op to develop its own outreach and development activities in its local community.
The projects which Energy4All promotes are on a commercial scale, and typically operate under the ROC regime, although smaller schemes using the Feed in Tariff are now in development. To date, all the co-ops have been involved in wind energy, but Energy4All is not bound to any one technology and is actively pursuing opportunities to install hydro and solar generation in locations all over the UK.
One of the co-ops Energy4All has set up, the Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative, raised over £4.6m of equity from less than 2,500 members, which, together with a loan from the Co-op Bank, made possible the installation of 6.5MW of wind power in South Oxfordshire in 2008. Westmill Co-op donates £6,500 annually to WeSET (Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust) to be spent on local projects and educational activities.
Four small wind turbines are presently being constructed in Northern Ireland for the Drumlin Wind Energy Co-op, which raised £2.7m from its public share offer in 2012. The latest share offer from Energy4All is for the Spirit of Lanarkshire Co-op which seeks to raise £2.7m, £1m by 20 September and the remaining £1.7m by 21 March 2014.
This Co-op is looking to acquire stakes in two large wind farms in South Lanarkshire which have been developed by Falck Renewables, Nutberry Hill and West Browncastle. Other similar co-ops in the Highlands of Scotland have been paying out an average return to members of 8.5 per cent a year since they were set up some years ago.
Already more than three quarters of a million pounds has been invested, so it is likely that the first phase of the offer will close early, but there will still be the opportunity to join the co-op in the second phase. If you are interested in investing, please download a copy of the share offer document at www.spiritoflanarkshire.coop or call 0845 373 3612.
In this article
- Baywind Energy Co-operative
- Business models
- Community wind energy
- Consumer cooperative
- Contact Details
- Energy Fortnight
- Low-carbon economy
- Renewable energy
- Renewable energy in the United Kingdom
- Social Issues
- Sustainable energy
- The Co-operative Group
- Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative
- Wind power
- United Kingdom