Solar share offer raises £1m in first week

Swindon Advertiser: Adam Twine with the solar panels at Watchfield energy farm Adam Twine with the solar panels at Watchfield energy farm

JUST A week after the launch of a share offer for the country’s biggest community-owned solar farm in Swindon, a staggering £1m has been raised.

So far, more than 270 people from Swindon, other parts of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and further afield have taken up the opportunity to be part of the project.

Only 11 days ago, Government minister Ed Vaizey officially launched the share offer allowing people to become part of what will be the biggest community-owned solar power station in the world. The share offer aims to raise up to £4m equity and is open until the end of July.

The investment is £250 up to £20,000. Already the directors of Westmill Solar Co-operative are thrilled so many people have invested so quickly.

Philip Wolfe, the chairman of Westmill Solar Co-op, said: “I am delighted we have reached this milestone so quickly.

“We believe the shares offer a long term, inflation linked investment which allows everyone to benefit from returns over 10 per cent thanks to the original rate of feed-in-tariffs.

“We are expecting continued strong demand, as more people hear about this rare opportunity.

We advise anyone considering investing to do so soon by visiting the Westmill Solar website.”

The solar farm, based in Watchfield, has more than 21,000 polycrystalline solar panels producing 4.8GWh per year – enough to power 1,400 homes a year.

Shareholders benefit from a long-term, inflation linked return on their investment as the project receives the highest rate of government feed-in tariff, because it was generating clean energy before August 1 last year.

Director Mark Shorrock said: “I was keen we launch this share offer as an alternative to stock market investing which can see savings rise and often fall at short notice.

“A solar plant offers safe, stable long-term income for 25 years and it is brilliant to see the initial £1m of investors’ money has been raised in such a short time.”

Adam Twine, the owner of Westmill Farm, said: “We are pleased that we can make local community ownership of Westmill solar farm a possibility.

“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.

“We expect to be oversubscribed as it’s not often you have a chance to do something good for the environment and make money.”

Returns are expected to average 11 per cent each year for the term with projected returns of nine per cent each year for the first eight years, up to 22 per cent for the second eight-year period, rising to 43 per cent for the final period. For more information, visit www.westmillsolar.coop.

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