Small Wind Co-op launches £1.4m community energy funding drive for Inverclyde wind farms

Alister McIntyre at Kellybank farm, Bute
Alister McIntyre at Kellybank farm, Bute

The Small Wind Co-op is seeking to raise £1.4 million to build two 100kW community-owned farm-scale wind projects in Scotland which come pre-approved for the government feed-in tariff subsidy.

The local community energy investment opportunity inviting people to support two small farm wind turbines at Kellybank Farm in Wemyss Bay is being launched later today at Inverkip Marina in Inverclyde.

The Small Wind Co-op is being launched by Sharenergy which offers people the chance to invest in the two Kellybank wind turbines and a second farm wind project in mid-Wales – the first time a community energy project has brought together farm-scale wind projects in different countries within the UK.

As well as offering investors a return of between 4.5% and 6.5%, the project will generate a community fund of £3,000 a year (index-linked) for 20 years to support local projects bringing social, economic and environmental benefits to the communities of Skelmorlie, Inverkip and Wemyss Bay.

Kellybank is a small farm in Inverclyde, overlooking Bute. With a small head of quality beef cattle, it is run by retired milkman Alister McIntyre, with the goal of having a going concern for his family to take over.

He said: “We already have one small turbine on the farm and we felt it would be good for the community, good for us all, if we made use of land that wasn’t doing a lot at present.  We’re using the resource we’ve got, and that’s wind, and it will always be windy here.”

Shrewsbury-based Sharenergy has helped set up over 30 community energy projects throughout the UK.

Leila Sharland, Community Renewables Adviser, at Sharenergy said: “We know that people don’t trust the big energy companies, which is why we are a small co-operative, which is completely owned and run by our members – no ‘fat cats’ here. 

“And we know that people want to support renewable energy in the UK directly – so we set up the Small Wind Co-op to make that possible.”

With a minimum investment of £100, the Co-op is offering two types of investment:

Bonds, which have a return of 4.5% and will be repaid after six years; and

Shares, which offer a projected average annual return of 6.5 % over 20 years and entitle people to become members of the co-operative and have a say in how it’s run.

Thanks to the Personal Savings Allowance, for most people the returns will be tax free.

People opting to invest through community shares and join the cooperative will also have– the chance to use the electricity they generate themselves, by signing up to Co-operative Energy for their energy supply.

Sharland added: Of course, we can’t plug the turbines directly into your house. And it is difficult to sell electricity directly to our members. But we’ll be selling it to Co-operative Energy and if you sign up with them you can specify that you want to get your supply from our turbines. This is a first for community energy in the UK.”

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