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- CEF17 is Powering Together!
- Why Community Energy Fortnight is so important - By Emma Bridge
- Community Energy Fortnight 2017 dates announced and news of a new collaboration
- The community energy revolution is evolving, and the future’s bright
- Investing in community energy schemes
- Energising faith communities: the Spirit project
- Community Energy - the way forward
- CEF16 dates announced
- The community energy revolution pushes on in face of storm clouds
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Investing in community energy schemes
Georgina Matthews from Ethex, who make positive investing easy to understand and do, discusses why she thinks people should invest in community energy.
Through social investment platforms like Ethex investors can put their money in businesses that they believe in, and these positive businesses can then find the investment that they need to develop and grow. It means people can save and invest in a way that brings benefit to society and finances a more sustainable world. We have now raised over £47 million for over 50 businesses, many of which have been community energy projects right across the UK. Finance raised on Ethex has seen over 210 schemes installed and 40MW capacity, and many more are installing right now!
We have found that most investment into community renewables comes from local people who want to back renewable energy schemes in their area and see the community benefit. Community energy schemes result in an extraordinary range of community benefits for beyond the reduction of carbon emissions; support for fuel poverty, free energy provision in schools, improvements to community buildings, computers for low income schools, improving wildlife areas and providing local healthcare services.
South Staffordshire Community Energy’s offer, currently open on Ethex, is a good case in point. The scheme works like this: SSCE will install solar panels on the roof of the local hospital with investment from local people. The hospital reduces its long-term energy costs that can be invested in improved hospital services. The income from the solar panels from the Government Feed-in-Tariff is used to pay back investors -- at 4.5% IRR over the 20-year lifetime of the project -- and surplus is invested in a community fund. In turn this fund supports the work of national charity Beat the Cold to improve the welfare of local residents living in fuel poverty. This project really is saving lives with solar – that’s positive investment for you!
Post-Brexit non-traditional investment products like community energy bond and shares offer an alternative opportunity. With the benefit of forecasted returns of 5–7%, UK-based community energy share and bond offers could offer a relatively safe haven in a stormy environment. Returns are based on the sale of electricity generated back to the grid and from the Government Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, giving projects fairly predictable long-term cash flows- it’s worth noting that all Community Benefit Societies and some Co-operatives pay distributions in the form of interest. This means that the new Personal Savings Allowance introduced in April applies to a large number of the savings and investment products listed on the Ethex platform.
This year will see the fourth Community Energy Fortnight, which will run from the 3rd to 18th September 2016, and is once again supported by The Co-operative Energy. The Fortnight will continue to showcase inspiring examples of communities who are sharing their resources and generating renewable energy and wasting less - embracing technologies as diverse as solar-PV arrays, wind turbines, hydro-electricity and biomass heat. If you have been inspired by the Community Energy Fortnight to invest in community energy you can find out more through the Ethex website.