Community groups will be supported to take over solar farms by a new partnership between independent trust Power to Change and social investment company Big Society Capital
A collaboration between independent trust Power to Change and social investment company Big Society Capital aims to move up to eight existing solar farms into community hands in 2018.
The partnership – Community-Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE) – will help local community energy groups take over existing ground-mounted solar farms with the aim of maximising the social, environmental and financial benefit for the community. CORE will give groups up to three years to raise the necessary funding to fully transfer ownership into community hands.
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Kickstarting the investment programme is the purchase of the Newton Downs solar farm in Newton Ferrers near Plymouth, from renewable electricity supplier Good Energy. Over time, CORE aims to transition the site into the hands of Yealm Community Energy, a local community business. The installation is expected to generate more than £1.4m in income for local community organisations and projects over its lifetime.
CORE was originally set up in response to the government’s reduction to feed-in tariffs which curtailed the development of community energy solar projects.
Locally owned energy can help generate long-term revenue streams for local issues, such as fuel poverty
“We believe this to be one of the largest ever mission-aligned investments by a UK foundation,” said Power to Change chief executive Vidhya Alakeson. “By getting further involved in this sector, Power to Change is demonstrating how community businesses are stepping in to address market failure and creating assets that really benefit their communities.”
Jeremy Rogers, chief investment officer at Big Society Capital, added: “We are proud to be supporting Power to Change to bring more energy assets in to community ownership. Locally owned energy can help generate long-term revenue streams for local issues, such as fuel poverty.”