Europe’s largest crowd-funded £3 million solar power project set to take off in Berwickshire

Berwickshire Housing AssociationBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

Europe’s largest crowd-funded solar power project – which will install nearly 750 roof-mounted domestic panels in Berwickshire next year – has ‘gone live’.

The project for Berwickshire Housing Association is set to save each tenant hundreds of pounds a year on utility bills.

Investors will earn 7% initial interest from the date they invest until 1 April 2015 when the solar panels become fully operational, from when investors will be paid their capital and interest return for 20 years, giving a 7.5% IRR.         

This is the kind of scheme for ‘easy access’ wider public direct-investment called for earlier this week by the renewables industry trade associations in Scotland and England.

The project is being developed by Oakapple Renewable Energy and Edison Energy and will involve up to 749 roof mounted solar PV systems with a total capacity of 2,595 kW. 

The homes are located across Berwickshire, including Duns, Eyemouth and Coldstream. Oakapple Berwickshire will be the largest project of any kind yet offered through Abundance Generation, which is seeking to raise up to £3.1 million for the project.

This is the second project offered on Abundance by Oakapple Renewable Energy, following their successful £480,000 raise for Oakapple One last year.  

Berwickshire Housing Association tenants living in the homes on which the solar panels are installed will enjoy a substantial drop in their energy bills – up to as much as a 30% reduction – without having to pay anything towards the project.  

Abundance Generation is an FCA-regulated finance platform which allows small investors to invest directly in UK renewable energy projects with as little as £5.

This new form of ‘democratic finance’ – building on the success of peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and other forms of ‘people-powered finance’ – opens the door for ordinary people to support and participate in the benefits of renewable energy.  

Bruce Davis, joint Managing Director, Abundance Generation, said: “This is a perfect opportunity for savers to do something worthwhile while getting an attractive, bank-beating return at low risk”.

Helen Forsyth, Chief Executive, Berwickshire Housing Association, said: “Our tenants living in these solar powered homes will enjoy a substantial drop in their energy bills, up to as much as a 30% reduction potentially saving over £100 per home a year, without having to pay anything towards the project. 

“We’re determined to do what we can to address fuel poverty and working with Abundance investors is a fantastic way to tackle the problem.”    

Investment in projects offered by Abundance is made through the purchase of debentures – corporately-registered ‘IOUs’ that commit to pay interest on top of capital.  Returns will be paid in single or twice yearly payments over the term of the project (depending on the project).

Investors who wish to cash in early can sell their holdings via the Abundance website.

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