Picture of a snowy wind turbine and holly

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The Small Wind Co-op has launched a unique and unusual gift idea for Christmas: shares in community wind turbines in Scotland and Wales. The wind energy gift certificates are available in any amount from a minimum of £100, up to December 16th, and can be exchanged for shares in the Co-op, which is building three farm-scale turbines in Wales and Scotland.

Jon Halle, Director, Small Wind Co-op, said: “This must be the most positive Christmas present you can give someone: the gift of wind energy and a stake in the UK’s green energy future. Not only does the recipient get a chance to own part of a community wind turbine, with a say in how the Co-op is run, but they can earn a good annual return for the next 20 years. There hasn’t been much good news around lately – but this is a chance to step out of the bubble, do something positive and make a genuine difference for the future.”

So far the Co-op has attracted over 350 members, raising over £1.1 million to fund the installation of farm-scale wind turbines at Wemyss Bay, Inverclyde and in Ceredigion, Wales-  the first time a community energy project has brought together wind projects in different countries within the UK. The minimum investment is just £100 and projected average annual returns for shareholders are 6.5% over 20 years.

Work is already underway on building both schemes, and the second tranche of shares must close on December 16th. As well as offering a stable return for members, supported by the government-guaranteed Feed-in Tariff, the project will generate a community fund of £3,000 a year (index-linked) for 20 years at each site in Scotland and Wales.

Jon Halle added: “We think our gift shares won’t just appeal to environmentalists and green power supporters, but anyone who wants to be part of an exciting community project which offers the prospect of good financial returns as well. Many of us have been given goats for Christmas  – how about a wind turbine this time. That really is too big to wrap!

Man holding solar panel

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Sharenergy are pleased that a number of the community groups they have been supporting in and around Manchester have completed their solar panel installations in time to meet the Feed in Tariff deadlines.

Greater Manchester Community Renewables has raised £186,000 through a community share offer, funding the installation of solar panels at three schools in Salford, (Irlam Primary School, Fiddlers Lane Primary School and Primrose Hill Primary School) and a community hub in Trafford (The Fuse, Partington).

GMCR projects that overall it will save 50 tonnes carbon dioxide in the first year of operation and over 20 years, provide combined energy bill savings of almost £50,000 to the sites, plus generate a total Community Fund of over £50,000 to be used in the areas around the sites for future eco-friendly initiatives.

Oldham Community Power working closely with Renewable Energy 4 Business and Oldham Council, have installed solar panels on four primary schools and one community building in the Borough. Installations took place in August / September, with projects totalling £220,000. A fifth site is due to go up in early December on Blackshaw Primary School.

OCP one of the first community projects who have been able to install at the new Feed in Tariff levels; currently funded by a loan from Oldham Borough Council, they will be launching a Share Offer soon to ensure the project stays in community ownership.

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Meet two of our members of the Small Wind Coop and find out more about why they joined the energy coop movement.

Neil Barnes, Linlithgow, ScotlandA picture of Neil

Neil is Communities Manager with Warmworks, the national agency helping to deliver warmer homes in Scotland and is an active participant in his local energy group, Linlithgow Natural Grid. He is married to Pamela, who works for the Linlithgow Community Trust, and they have two young daughters.

Neil is the 100th person to join the Small Wind Co-op and was inspired by his friends from Wemyss Bay and their determination to help get the project off the ground. He explains his motivation: “We both want our girls to live in a greener, more sustainable place. This sort of investment in Small Wind is hopefully just the start of something that will secure all our energy futures. Slowly but surely, we are paving the way to more beneficial energy systems for our local communities. Lowering carbon emissions and generating revenue to be kept in the local economy to build resilience.”

“Community energy share offers like Small Wind are regularly providing solid returns of 4-5% across the EU. We believe that these alternatives are more robust and sustainable for our families and communities than business as usual, and we want to plug both the economic and environmental deficits that so many of us are trying to overcome. Positive projects like this are needed across the UK and we’re pleased to be part of the Small Wind Co-op’s success.”

Howard Yardy, Ceredigion, WalesWales investor

My partner Helen and I “retired” to take up smallholding. I have never worked so hard in all my life.  We have lived on our 8 acre smallholding in Llangeitho for 11 years and are mostly self sufficient in fruit, vegetables and meat. We are keen environmentalists and climate change is a serious concern for us and the future of our family.

We have invested in our property with this in mind. We have hot water and PV solar panels on our roof. Our main fuel is wood which we obtain from our own and neighbours hedgerows and which we process ourselves. We would have liked to have a turbine on our property but we live in a deep valley. We encouraged and supported our farmer neighbours to have a 50 kilowatt turbine installed at the top of the hill. This turbine produces an income for the farm through rental but is not community owned.

Another neighbour, Gwyn Davies, Troed y Bryn, can see this turbine from his house and we were delighted that he was keen to have one on his land. It meant that, this time, not only would his farm benefit but also local people, like us, will be able to get a good return from an investment through the Small Wind Co-op. The village will also be able to apply for grants from the community funded project.

Climate change is a fact and how much it will affect our descendants will depend on action we take right now. These projects will only have a small affect on carbon emissions but they send a clear message of our intention to take care of the future of this planet. I hope our new PM will hear that message and steer the energy policy back towards renewables.

While there have been objections by a few locals to the turbine, I hope that they will come to accept the urgency to tackle climate change and now that planning approval is settled, will join in the community project and seize the opportunity to make a good return on an investment.

It was great to see that we have been linked to another similar project in Scotland, not only from an environmental standpoint but also making investment more secure. While many local people have invested along with us it would be impossible to raise the funds locally for the whole project. It is heartening to see hundreds of like-minded investors across the country and even abroad supporting the scheme. The Bank of England’s statement yesterday of another cut of the interest rate only highlights the fact that this is a canny investment, good for our farmer friend, good for our village and very good for our planet.

share offer extension

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share offer extensionWe’ve been experiencing a very high level of interest over the last few days, with applications coming in at a great rate. It’s pretty clear that we were going to fall short of our target by the original end date however, so we we have extended the share offer end date to the 22nd August. That still gives us enough time to order and install the turbines with a sensible buffer in case of bad weather in winter or any other delays.

All current share and bond applications remain valid of course, and just as before, if we were not to reach our minimum target of £700,000 by the end date, we will return all application funds in full. So please keep them coming – or if you have already subscribed, you might like to consider increasing your share and/or bond holding, or telling anybody you know who may be interested in the project.

Anybody in or near London may wish to consider coming to our Community Energy Pitch event on 28th July – a sort of friendly Dragon’s Den where we will be pitching the Small Wind Co-op alongside hydro and solar groups. For details and tickets see our Eventbrite page.

WemyssBayLaunch

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We’ve reached a milestone with the Small Wind Co-op – we are 30% funded, with a week to go. So it’s a race to the line  – as always with community shares. Lots of progress has been made behind the scenes so we’re very confident that we can deliver the project on time and to budget – we just need a few more members!

All the details are in our share offer document or on the Crowdfunder site where you can also buy shares online with a zero-hassle signup procedure. Quite a few people have bought £100-worth of shares just so they can avail themselves of our tie-in with Co-operative Energy and have their own bespoke (and good value) green tariff – guaranteed greenwash free – and as a member of Small Wind Co-op you are in a position to check!

We also have bonds available – 4.5% return over a 6-yr fixed term – apply direct using the form in the share offer document for these.

piggybank

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In a period with little good news for community energy, there has been a glimmer of light on the tax front. Although we have lost the EIS and SEIS tax reliefs, we have gained the Government’s new Personal Savings Allowance. This measure, announced at the Budget, means that a certain amount of income from interest in a year will be tax free. For lower-rate taxpayers that will be £1000. That means that you could, for example, have £15,000 in community energy shares with a 6% return and pay no tax on the interest whatsoever. For some people the benefits could even be as good as EIS.

The new Allowance doesn’t just apply to Society shares of course, but it does make it easier for people on normal incomes to support community energy schemes.

 

Ludlow screw turbine

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The Archimedes screw turbine has now arrived on site and been manoeuvred into place next to the River Teme in Ludlow. We’ve been involved in attempts to get community hydro up and running in Ludlow for the last 8 years so we’re delighted to see the project so close to completion – commissioning is scheduled for next week. At the same time some grid upgrades are underway for Heartland Community Wind which will soon be able to run at full capacity. It’s great to see that both Dingwall Wind Coop and Wester Derry Wind Co-op managed to meet the financial projections in their share offer documents almost exactly and were able to agree their first payments to members and community fund at their recent AGMs.

We have a full roster of new projects which are nearly ready to go and are planning share offers in May. Whether you are keen on solar, hydro or wind, small or large projects, making cheap electricity for community buildings or pumping juice back into the grid, we are working with a community ptoject that woudl love to have you as a member. In the meantime if you’d be prepared to spend 30 seconds telling us what sort of projects you might consider joining, please do fill in our online survey .

Members Map

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We’re delighted to say that community energy projects we have been working with have added 700 members in the last 2 months from all across the UK – the map covers most parts of mainland Britain as well as Shetland – and a few supporters based in Germany. It’s a fantastic vote of confidence in community energy and gives us hope to take forward more ambitious projects. Government policy has turned away from renewables but it’s clear lots of people in the UK still support community-owned renewables to the hilt.

Heartland turbines

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We are looking for an experienced and qualified accountant to join our team in Shrewsbury on a part-time basis (3 days/week). You will be at the heart of our small team providing support for new and established community energy Societies across the UK producing clean, locally-owned renewable energy – like these turbines at Heartland Community Wind in Scotland. See totaljobs for more details and to apply. Deadline is 8 Jan 2016.

Heartland

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Battling against wind and snow, Heartland’s fabulous installation team have managed to get both turbines up on the site in mid-Scotland. Congratulations to all at RM Energy and colleagues, and to members of Heartland Wind Co-op which is now fully subscribed.