First UK solar farm bond oversubscribed

The first UK solar bond has been successful, and is oversubscribed with £600,000 excess.

The bond is the first to be certified by the Climate Bonds Standard and Certification Scheme, an investor tool used to help investors and governments proritise low carbon investments.

The £4 million, Big60Million bond scheme exceeded £4.6 million. Sold over nine weeks, the mini bonds were sold at £60 each, with a 7% fixed annual gross return on investment. Returns are to be paid annually, for five years. After the first five years bondholders are offered reinvestment for a further 20 year bond.

The solar farm investment offers bondholders a strong financial position; bondholders are also assured by assets and revenues from the solar farm.

Alternative investment specialist, Rockfire Capital is responsible for bond management and Rockfire Security is overseeing security of the solar farm investment.

Big60Million said now UK residents can share the environmental and social benefits of solar installations, as part of its ambition to make 60 million people across the UK solar investors.

The community solar farm is named Willersey Solar Farm, is located in Gloucester with a 3.8MW installed capacity, and is the first solar bond company, Big60million project and reaffirms the UK’s preference for community solar energy.

Willersey will power 1,140 UK houses a year.

Big60Million also teamed up with wildlife conservationists, Flowerscape, British Beekeepers Association and the RSPB to make Willersey into a joint nature sanctuary with 25 acres of wildflowers, with schools and local communities helping to install wildlife habitats at the solar farm. There is also organic food grown between the solar panels.

Willersey was connected to the grid in March this year and receives the 1.6 Renewable Obligation Certifications (ROCs) government payments.

Big60million created a subsidiary, Willersey Solar Farm Bond for the project; the subsidiary controls the assets of the solar farm.

CEO of Big60Million, Toddington Harper said for a solar energy revolution in the UK “it is critical that we create grass roots support amongst the general public”.

Willersey Solar Farm is the first Big60Million project, and the first project of its type in the UK “which has been designed to deliver as much benefit to residents of the UK as possible” said Harper.

Councillor Anthony Blagg, cabinet member for environment at Worcestershire County Council, said he was “impressed” after visiting the solar farm “where land which has limited value for agricultural has been used to generate much needed electricity for the nation. The fact that local residents can invest in the project and the land under the panels is being used to increase local biodiversity is a major bonus.”

Big60Million will be exhibiting at the Solar Energy UK trade show, 14-16 October 2014, at the Birmingham NEC, stand G10.