Community solar investors unveil plan to support local charities

Community interest company Burnham & Western Energy has announced a £4 million community fundraising round in a bid to support two charities located nearby its 9.3MW solar farm.

The company is bidding to raise the investment via bond issue launched last week via Triodos’ crowdfunding platform, before using it to return nearly £3 million in surplus profits expected to be made over the remaining 23-year lifespan of its solar farm to the local community.

Half of the surplus has been pencilled to support the Somerset Community Foundation’s ‘Sunshine Fund’, which support local community projects, and to support a fuel poverty service managed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy to help households struggling to pay their energy bills.

The 9.3MW Wick Farm project is located between Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-sea and has been in operator for nearly two years. It generates more than £1 million year in revenue.

Those participating in the bond issue must invest a minimum of £200, but in return will receive an initial interest rate of 5% each year, rising with inflation.

The investment term is 18 years.

Jake Burnyeat, director at Burnham and Weston Energy CIC, said that decentralised energy had created opportunities for local communities to “take back control” of their energy systems.

“This can keep money in the local economy and turn energy production into an asset for the local community. In doing so, localities can generate income to help address wider community infrastructure and service needs.

“Burnham and Weston Energy has been set up to help the communities of Burnham and Weston take advantage of this opportunity, with around £3 million in surplus profits going into the local community over 23 years. We want to involve investors who share our values, and the Triodos Crowdfunding Platform is a key part of getting this project off the ground,” he said.