Welcome for first wind farm owned by its customers

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A plan to launch the UK’s first customer-owned wind farm is an interesting idea says a Midlands green energy expert.

“Offering householders the chance to buy a share in return for receiving the electricity it produces is very innovative,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.

Ripple Energy is aiming to sign up around 20,000 people in the UK to crowdfund the cost of the £4.3m project in South Wales.

People who buy shares in the co-operative will earn the right to have a proportion of the electricity when the single turbine at Graig Fatha Farm, near Coedely, north of Cardiff, begins production next year.

A wind farm or turbine works when the energy in the wind turns two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor connected to the main shaft which spins a generator to create electricity.

Under the agreement with Co-op Energy, run by Octopus Energy, any residents in the UK will be offered the energy at a cheap rate to cover the running costs.

“But potential customers should think carefully before rushing in to sign up,” said Ron, “as there is an upfront cost for a typical household of £1,900 for a share of the wind farm. And they would still have to pay the network charges, levies and taxes on all domestic electricity bills.

“Plus any savings will be highly dependent on the wholesale price of electricity and the wind turbine’s yield.”

Another stipulation is that shareholders will have to switch to Co-op Energy or be existing customers of either Co-op or Octopus. After a year they will allowed to move, but only to approved supply partners and they will have to wait at least two years if they want to sell their share to another member of the co-operative wanting to increase his or her stake.

However, Ron added: “Despite all this the wind farm project says it should generate enough electricity during its 25-year lifetime to meet the needs of each household and reduce their bills by around 26 per cent, so repaying the investment in around 14 years.”

Ripple Energy was founded in 2017 by Sarah Merrick, a former executive at the wind turbine maker Vestas. She has an impressive financial track record as Ripple was crowdfunded with £850,000 from 1,000 individual investors.

The entrepreneur assured potential investors that the electricity supply would be secure whether the wind was blowing or not and added that there were already 4,500 people interested in the first wind farm project.

Ron added: “I shall be watching this project with interest, but it is certainly not one for the faint hearted. But for those who do take part it could be a very rewarding investment.”

For advice on green energy contact Ron on 0845 474 6641.

 

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