A £31 million inflation linked debt refinancing has been secured from institutional investment abrdn by Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE).
CORE – a £50 million social partnership between charitable trust Power to Change and Big Society Capital launched in 2017 and structured by Finance Earth – aims to bring solar farms into community ownership, delivering environmental, social and financial benefits for the local communities where the assets are based.
It said that this investment pioneers institutional financing into the community renewable energy sector, paving the way for CORE and Finance Earth to structure further financing offerings later this year to enable community-ownership and lasting local benefits of the solar farms.
The financing will deliver a long-term, non-recourse, reliable, RPI-linked and fully amortising debt structure running for a 15-year tenor until 2036. It was arranged by Finance Earth, while investment to support the refinancing came from Phoenix Group, a funding partner to abrdn.
"This refinancing with abrdn and Phoenix demonstrates that community energy schemes can be financed at scale, in partnership with like-minded institutions, and as a result generate significant financial benefits for local communities," Peter Jenkins, chair of CORE, said.
CORE solar farms have supported their local communities with over £300,000 of community benefit funding since 2018. Indeed, in 2021 six CORE solar farms generated £60,000 of surplus profit, while in 2020 six farms advanced £195,000 in community benefit funds, with the money then supporting their local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of these farms - Yealm Community Energy's Creacome solar farm - became the first subsidy-free community solar project when it was connected to the grid in February 2020.