22 April 2016

Bristol City Council, Social and Sustainable Capital and Triodos Bank collectively agree £4 million this week. Also running crowdfunded bond offer – a 6 per cent pa, 2­-year bond offer

Bristol Energy Cooperative has this week signed agreements that add

£3.95 million of funding for its community energy projects. This takes the total raised since its November launch to £9 million.

This is being used to add 9.3 MWp of community-­owned solar generation capacity to the UK’s grid. Upon construction of its final array in June 2016 BEC will become the UK’s largest generator of community energy.

Its portfolio, including projects under development, includes a 4.6 MWp operational ground array at Puriton near Hinkley Point, Somerset, around 20 roof­top arrays on community buildings across Bristol, and a 4.2 MWp site at Lawrence Weston, which is starting construction and due for completion in June.

The community energy company began fundraising, in partnership with Mongoose Energy, in November 2015.

This new wave of finance comes from Triodos Bank, Bristol City Council and Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) and will be used specifically to fund the construction of the Lawrence Weston array.

This adds to £2.34 million already raised through crowdfunded bond and share offers, and £2.68 million from Close Brothers Bank.

BEC has two crowdfunded offers currently open for public investment: a 2-year fixed-term bond offer​ which offers up to 6 per cent pa returns on investments over £500 made before 3rd May and a share offer, which offers up to 5 per cent pa returns on investments between £50 and £100,000 made before 31st May.

All projects aim to be operational in time to receive the government’s 2015 (higher) feed in tariff (FiT) rate for 20 years. Based on each site’s average annual duration of sunshine, BEC’s portfolio is predicted to generate 8,830 MWh per year of clean energy ­ the equivalent of powering 2,400 typical UK homes.

Profits from the sites’ energy generation will be used to fund £4 million of social projects across Bristol and Somerset ­ for example fighting energy poverty or increasing homes’ energy efficiencies.

Both offers are available through the positive investment and savings investment platform, Ethex. To download the bond offer document and invest visit https://www.ethex.org.uk/BristolBond. To download the share offer document and invest visit https://www.ethex.org.uk/Bristol​.

Andy O’Brien, a co-director at BEC said: “With 9.3 MWp of renewable capacity, BEC will become the UK’s largest generator of community energy. However, this is a fast-growing and essential part of the UK’s energy mix, so we can’t wait to be overtaken as more community owned capacity is added to the national grid.

“The addition of finance from Bristol City Council, along with SASC and Triodos Bank, highlights the strength of the BEC offer and adds to the investment from Close Brothers Bank. Over £2.3m has also been raised through our bond and share offers.

“We expect two principal types of investors to be interested in the bond: local investors who want an ability to back an ethical, renewable energy project that puts back into the community; and those who simply want a better rate than you’d get in an ISA or savings account.”

Mareike Schmidt, Bristol City Council’s Energy Service Manager said “We’re delighted to be able to part­finance such a large community initiative in the city. Bristol Energy Co­op has been doing excellent work in raising the necessary funds to ensure this project’s success and as a council we want to enable projects like this through grid connections and financial support wherever we can.”

Ben Rick, co­founder and chief executive of Social and Sustainable Capital, added: “We are delighted to support BEC in becoming the UK’s largest generator of community energy. Following recent policy changes, we have been asked to consider investing in several renewable energy schemes through our Community Investment Fund. With BEC, and with the support of our partners at Power to Change, we are delighted to make our first investment into this sector given the embedded social benefit and distribution of surpluses directly to local community organisations such as Ambition Lawrence Weston. We look forward to working closely with BEC in the coming months and years and hope to support many more organisations generating high environmental and social impact in their communities.”

Philip Bazin, Environment Team Manager at Triodos Bank said: “As one of the leading community energy lenders in the UK, we are proud to have provided loan finance for this ground-breaking sustainable development. Not only will the project help contribute to renewable energy production in the UK, but it will create much needed social investment in the local area. This scheme will allow the community to shape its own long-term future and we are delighted to be supporting Mongoose Energy, Bristol Energy Co­op and Bristol City Council.”

About the BEC bond offer 

BEC’s bond offer closes on the 3 May and seeks to raise a total of £2 million.

Bristol Energy Cooperative’s bond is a two­-year product that gives expected returns of 6 per cent per annum, repaid after two years. Upon completion, investors have the option to cash in their bonds, extend it beyond two years at up to 5 per cent per annum, or to convert into shares. Surplus profits from the solar array will be reinvested into a community fund that local groups can apply for and details on how to apply will be given later in the year. For enquiries please contact communityfund@bristolenergy.coop.

For further information on the project and how to invest, visit: www.ethex.org.uk/Bristolbond​. ​