A Swansea community energy company has secured a 5MW solar farm at Brynwhilach, near Morriston. The purchase will enable the co-operative to distribute £2.7m to local projects over the next 23 years.
After smashing through their investment target of £385,000 in just six weeks, Gower Power community benefit society is now working towards a stretch target of £518,950. More investors are welcome to get involved before the offer closes this Friday, December 8th.
Gower Power launched their share offer on September 27th, as part of a consortium called “Community Energy Together”. By 10th November over 150 investors had answered the call to become members of the co-operative, contributing over £400,000 to the project. Those numbers continue to grow as the share offer enters its final few days.
Ant Flanagan, Gower Power Director and founder said,
“People really resonate with the need to do business differently and to see more profits distributed back into communities. We project a 6% annual return to our investors, but what people really love is that any surplus we generate from green electricity sales is spent on fantastic local projects. The urgent need to decarbonise our energy is no longer up for debate, and this way of meeting that challenge also feels fairer, keeping profits within the community where solar farms are situated. “
“We’re using a big loan to secure the farm – the more investment we attract, the sooner we can pay that down and grow the community benefit fund,” Ant explains.
The company has a proud history of supporting sustainability in Swansea, and enabling grassroots projects to benefit the local community. They were instrumental in establishing Cae Tan, Swansea’s first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, whose apprenticeships have enabled many more CSAs to develop, providing fresh veg grown in nature-friendly, nutrient-boosting ways. They developed a 1MW solar farm in Dunvant, now owned by Gower Regeneration Community Benefit Society, which provides local homes with green energy through Gower Electric Company. The development breathed new life into the farm site, which has become a hub for local small business start-ups and yet another CSA. Funding from Brynwhilach has supported community gardening and food growing projects and neighbours improving their local environments and green spaces. Owning the solar farm completely will enable Gower Power to initiate many more innovative projects and distribute far more grant funds.
Gower Power’s chair, Chris Dow, said,
“Gower Power is the only Welsh member in Wales of Community Energy Together, an innovative collaboration enabling communities to reduce the costs and risks of developing community-owned energy. Five community energy companies are working together to raise share investments and purchase a portfolio of seven solar farms. This project is adding 20% to the total amount of community-owned solar generation in England and Wales, and releasing £20m in total to projects that benefit communities. It’s a far fairer, greener and more sustainable way of doing business in the energy market, and we’re proud to be part of it.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the scheme can visit www.gowerpower.coop, and sign up to the Gower Power mailing list for future news.