May 28, 2012 - Westmill Solar Cooperative on Sunday said that a share offer that will make a 5-MW solar facility in south England the first community-owned solar farm in the UK will be launched next month.
The offer will run from June 23 to the end of July with investors given the opportunity to buy shares in the solar system from GBP 250 (USD 392/EUR 313) to GBP 20,000.
The solar farm is located outside the village of Watchfield, on the border between Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, and was completed before August 2011, so it receives the highest payment under the UK's feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme. "This will probably be the only opportunity to invest in a solar project of this scale and get this level of returns in the UK," Westmill Solar founder director, organic farmer Adam Twine said.
The share sale seeks to raise GBP 4.2 million and Westmill Solar Cooperative has appointed financial services group Investec (LON:INVP) to place a bond for the remainder of the funding.
The project was conceived as a community-owned facility but as due to looming changes to FiT rates there was not enough time to raise funding through a share offer or bank debt, private finance was sought. Construction finance and renewable energy firm Blue Energy agreed to build and own the solar farm with the cooperative given a call back option to take back ownership.
(GBP 1.0 = USD 1.569/EUR 1.251)
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