Westmill community solar project races towards £4 million target

Westmill Solar Cooperative is racing towards its £4 million target, after receiving nearly 800 applications interested in buying a share of the 5MW solar farm at Watchfield, near Swindon.

The solar coop has managed to raise over £3.5million is six weeks and has just nine days left until the share offer closes, it is looking like the group will smash the records for the fastest money-raising initiative by a local community group.

Adam Twine, Westmill Solar Cooperative’s Director said: “We were expecting to be fully subscribed as this is such a unique and exciting project.  And now that word is getting out it looks like we will. Almost five years ago in a different economic climate, Westmill Wind farm raised £4.3 million in three months.

“It was, at that time, the largest share offer by a co-op in the UK; today we are hoping to smash that record with the speed of Westmill Solar’s share offer.”

The solar project is available to all businesses and indivduals and has already received the support of Swindon-based retailer, Midcounties Cooperative, who is not only investing in the project but encouraging its members to do the same.

Frank Gordon, Project Manager for Westmill Solar, said: “This is a rare opportunity for businesses who are interested in either offsetting their carbon emissions or giving their business some security against rising energy prices.

“If a business wants to demonstrate a commitment to doing their bit for the environment, generating your own green electricity by owning part of this solar farm, is a great way to do it. 

“Equally if electricity prices rise Westmill Solar Co-op will get more for the electricity we are selling and so the returns to members will also go up.”

At this moment in time, the majority of all applicants are individuals who live within 25 miles of the scheme. To reinforce the community spirit of the coop, any local applicants will receive priority if the scheme is oversubscribed – which it looks like will happen.