Energy company Big60Million has launched a £20.4 million solar bond portfolio, offering 6% annual gross return on investments.

The five-year, fixed-term bonds are priced at £60 each for stakes in three newly completed solar farms with a combined capacity of 34MW. The installations were built by solar power developer Belectric UK, which will run and maintain them.

The bonds being offered are:

  • £8.6 million for Atherstone Solar Farm – a 14.8MW project near Atherstone, Warwickshire.
  • £5.8 million for Southam Solar Farm – a 10.3MW project near Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
  • £6 million for Paddock Wood Solar Farm – a 9.2 MW project near Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Toddington Harper, chief executive of Big60Million, told Solar Power Portal that the money raised would be used to pay back the construction costs of the farms and then to finance operations and create additional Big60Million projects.

The 34MW of electricity will be enough to power over 10,000 homes and avoid 14,600 tonnes of CO2 from conventional fossil-fuel generation per year, Big60Million said.

Investors can spread their investments by buying a stake in one, two or all three solar farms.

Big60Million will reserve 10% of the bonds for six weeks for people living within 10 miles of each solar farm to allow for each project to return profits to its community.

The firm seeks to raise the investments by 27 May this year.

Last August, the company launched its first £4 million UK solar bond for Willersley Solar Farm in Gloucestershire, which was oversubscribed by £600,000. Over nine weeks, the mini-bonds were sold at £60 each, with a 7% fixed annual gross return on investment.

The bond was conceived as a means of giving members of the public the opportunity to engage in and benefit from clean energy development.

Harper said the new investment target is much higher than the Willersley solar bond because the projects are far larger and significant numbers applied for the original bond even after the closing date.

He added: “When interest rates are as low as they are, people are looking for an alternative opportunity.”

Harper said that as a result of the Willersley bond, investors now see the project as their own, which has improved public understanding of solar farming. Meanwhile the site has become a nature reserve and now contains 20 acres of wild flowers, with open days for schools and the public.

Last August Solar Power Portal recorded a video interview with Toddington Harper discussing the Big60Million's first bond.