Bristol Energy Cooperative relaunches solar bond in major investment push

Community energy group Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) has relaunched its solar PV bond offer as part of a last push to finalise its solar portfolio.

BEC hopes to raise £2 million by 31 March 2016 to complete the purchase of a 4.6MW solar array near Puriton, Somerset, that has been constructed by renewable energy developer Anesco.

Anesco completed the farm’s development in December and the site is eligible for a 20-year fixed feed-in tariff. BEC intends for all profits from the array contributing towards a community fund worth £4 million which will support social causes across Bristol and Somerset.

Solar Power Portal reported in December that Anesco was to work alongside BEC to boost its community energy portfolio in the region.

The bonds will be available via investment platform Ethex and provide fixed-rate returns of 6% per annum over a two-year period. After the two years investors will have the option to cash them in, extend them beyond two years at 5% or convert them into shares.

The Puriton array will comprise a 9.3MW portfolio of large-scale and rooftop solar arrays across the south west that BEC is pursuing at a cost of £10 million. Around £8 million of that is expected to be raised by early March.

David Bunker, director at BEC, said that fund raising had gone well to date with some big name backers attracted on top of more than £250,000 raised through the firm’s bond and share offers.

“These are available to all, but created for local investors, some who will want to invest ethically and locally, and others who simply want a better rate than you’d get in an ISA or savings account.

“We’ve relaunched the bond having listened to feedback from the first round of fundraising and have created an investment product that more closely meets this – particularly shifting it from a three- to a two-year product,” Bunker added.