Local investors and Britain’s citizens keen on clean power are the target backers for what’s claimed as Britain’s first consumer-owned solar farm in shared ownership.
Shares starting at £25 in Derril Water, a 42MW PV venture with planning permission on low grade fields at Pyworthy, west Devon, are being offered from today by Ripple Energy, pioneers of co-operative ownership.
Ripple have previously successfully sold three wind farms in Wales & Scotland to small investors. Now they have bought the Devon project off the design board from developers RES.
A two-week exclusive window for locals to register for co-ownership opened this morning. From early May, private individuals further afield can stake their claim.
Ripple sees shared ownership of solar farms as an affordable, simple way for households to act on climate change and shrink their carbon footprint.
Owners of Derrll Water will see savings applied to their electricity bill, based on how much power their share of the park generates.
Ripple’s business model is to sell power from citizen-owned wind & solar farms on to retailers licenced by Ofgem. A clause in the power sale contract compels the suppliers to offer the electricity at a discount back to the farm’s owners.
Though indirect, long-term savings on investors’ purchases of clean power are guaranteed. Ripple’s marketing material quotes around 25% off competitors’ prices.
Community activities around Derril Water will benefit too from a fund run by the owners’ co-operative. Power sales should raise around £42,000 every year, adding to £15,000 from developers RES, already committed to refurbish a village hall.
Sarah Merrick, Ripple Energy’s founder and CEO said: “By offering consumer ownership, Derril Water solar park will become a completely different kind of solar park, one owned by the people it supplies low cost green power to.
“We want Derril Water to become a blueprint for consumer-owned solar parks around the world”, Merrick went on.
“We want to create a wave of green energy ownership that enables people to make a real climate impact, as well as stabilising their energy bills.
RES’ Managing Director Lucy Whitford responded: “Bringing Ripple on board at Derril Water offers a new way for consumers to share in the benefits of renewable energy and play a part in fighting climate change. The ability for local households and businesses to get involved connects the community directly with the project. Ripple’s model at Derril Water provides a direct way for consumers to lower their energy costs at such a critical time.”
Biodiversity uplift planned for the site includes planting species-rich grasses, native trees and 30% more hedgerows. Bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses, dormouse boxes and bee banks will be installed.