Solar farms will distribute surplus profits locally

A solar farm on Isle of Wight will distribute surplus profits locally for the next 20 years it has been revealed. 

Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP, funded by Power to Change and Big Society Capital, has purchased three farms in the UK with the intention of transferring them to community hands and distributing profits locally.

Communities in Shropshire, Kent and the Isle of Wight will be able to invest over £2m in local projects thanks to an investment in local solar farms by Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE).

CORE is a £40m investment partnership between Power to Change and Big Society Capital which invests in solar farms on behalf of communities. It has invested £12m in three solar farms with a combined capacity of 12MW and aims to transfer all three into full community ownership over the next three years.

With its investment, CORE aims to maximise the social, environmental and financial benefits of each asset for local residents. Surplus profits generated by each solar farm will be handed over to their local community over 20 years.

The debt restructuring by CORE for Homestead, a 3.7MW solar farm near Newport on the Isle of Wight, has secured £700,000 of community shares bought in large part by local residents and will enable Wight Community Energy to invest at least £360,000 for the benefit of their local community.

The future in community ownership now secured, Environmental Finance, adviser to CORE, will restructure each solar asset to increase the surplus profits where possible for each local community. CORE will then support each community to raise the funds to take full ownership of these solar assets over the next three years.

Colin Palmer, Chairman of Wight Community Energy said: “Wight Community Energy’s Homestead solar project was struggling financially under the terms imposed by the original lenders, so we are very pleased to have secured a refinancing package from CORE. In addition to now being able to distribution community funds, we are pleased to become linked to organisations specialising in supporting social enterprises like ours. We are looking forward to a future collaboration that will be much more than the simple banking relationship.”

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive at Power to Change said: “We are delighted that our investment in CORE enables communities to use the significant funds generated by solar farms to address local priorities and benefit local people. Going forward, we will support each community to raise the money necessary to take full ownership of these assets so they remain in community hands for the long term.”