The UK's first ever consumer-owned wind farm is set to be built in Coedely, south Wales, after owner Ripple Energy announced it has received £1.1m in Welsh government funding in support of the project.
The funding will enable the wind farm to be completed in autumn 2021, Ripple said. A further £1.8m loan has been agreed in principle from the Development Bank of Wales, the firm added, which can be drawn down in the summer if certain conditions are met.
Ripple's own customers have contributed just over £1.3m to the project, with returns anticipated via savings to their household electricity bill. Graig Fatha wind farm will be owned by an initial 675 households who have already signed up to the platform, with all members receiving green electricity directly from their share of the wind farm later this year.
The innovative model should mean participating households save up to 25 per cent on their electricity bills each year across the wind farm's 25-year lifetime, according to the company. Further households can sign up to the Ripple platform and purchase a share of the new wind farm from as little as £25, it added.
"Come Christmas, Ripple's members will be supplied with green electricity from their very own wind farm," said Sarah Merrick, CEO at Ripple Energy. "This is a first for the UK. It shows people can play a really active role in the UK's clean energy future. For too long, people have been sidelined - now they can share the benefits of green energy direct. This is just the beginning of us putting the power in the hands of household consumers."
Ripple has partnered with Co-op Energy, powered by Octopus Energy to get the electricity from the wind farm to its owners' homes. Customers can switch to Co-op Energy when they join the scheme. Existing Co-op Energy and Octopus Energy customers are also invited to take part.
Ripple Energy's clean energy ownership platform is one among a number of innvoative financing models aiming to involve ordinary people in financing the clean energy infrastructure that will be needed to power the UK's net zero transition.
Other approaches include Innovative Finance ISAs, a special ISA wrapper for crowd-funded investments which, like a conventional ISA, allows individuals to invest up to £20,000 a year without having to pay any tax on returns - and Community Municipal Investments, bonds issued by local authorities, which can be used to drum up funding for clean energy projects.