Bristol Energy Cooperative relaunched community energy bond gives 6% pa returns with shortened two-year term for investors in 4.6MWp solar array at Puriton Somerset

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Seeks to raise £2m; strengthens board with two of community energy sector’s leading experts

Following investor feedback, Bristol Energy Cooperative has relaunched its ethical, clean-energy bond offer, which gives 6% pa returns to those investing in the 4.6MWp solar array at Puriton, Somerset. 

Funds from the bond will finance the purchase of the large-capacity array – which was built in December by the industry leading firm Anesco, and has a 20-year fixed feed in tariff in place – with profits from the array contributing to a fund worth £4 million for social causes in Bristol and Somerset – including £100,000 in 2016.

The site is one of two large-scale and 19 roof-top solar arrays in BEC’s portfolio of projects across Bristol and Somerset that are undergoing fundraising. It will increase the generation capacity of BEC’s community owned solar arrays to 9.3 MWp.

The co-op is seeking to raise £2 million from the bond and £10 million in total by the end of March. It expects to have raised over £8 million by early-March for the portfolio of community energy projects.

The re-launched 2-year bonds can be invested in via Ethex, the award-winning positive investment and savings platform. This fund will give fixed-rate returns of 6% pa.

The relaunch follows the appointment of David Bunker and Jeff Kenna, two of the UK community energy sector’s leading experts, to the BEC board. Their appointment adds significant over 40 years of community- and renewable-energy experience to the board.

David Bunker, director at BEC said: “The fund raise has gone well so far, with some big name backers – including Close Brothers Bank – and over one and a quarter million pounds through our bond and share offers. These are available to all, but created for local investors, some who will want to invest ethically and locally, and others who simply want a better rate than you’d get in an ISA or savings account.

“We’ve relaunched the bond having listened to feedback from the first round of fundraising and have created an investment product that more closely meets this – particularly shifting it from a three- to a two-year product.”

BEC will use the £10 million to purchase sites and add arrays. The sites are: a 4.6 MWp site at Puriton, near Hinkley C in Somerset; a 4.2MWp site at Lawrence Weston, near Avonmouth, and 500 kWp to be installed on 19 schools, churches and community centres across Bristol. 

David Bunker also sits on the board of Bath and West Community Energy, of Mongoose Energy, and of Windcluster 2000. 

Jeff Kenna also sits on the board of BWCE, Mongoose, Wight Community Energy and the LSE listed Camco. 

The bond is run in association with the community energy firm Mongoose Energy and is available through the award winning positive investment and savings platform, Ethex.org.uk. Finances go to Bristol Energy Cooperative.

About the BEC bond offer

BEC’s bond offer closes on the 31st March and seeks to raise £2 million. 

The Puriton array will generate a predicted 4,823MWh per year of clean energy. This, combined with the ground and rooftop arrays across Bristol and at Lawrence Weston will collectively generate a predicted 9,300MWh per year of clean energy and save approximately 100,000 tonnes of CO2 over arrays’ 25-year running lives. 

The 20-year fixed feed in tariff is set at the 2015 (higher) rate of 6.16p per kWh (£61.60 per MWh).

Bristol Energy Cooperative’s bond is a two-year product that gives expected returns of 6% per annum, repaid after two years. Upon completion, investors have the option to cash in their bonds, extend them beyond two years at 5% per annum, or to convert into shares. Surplus profits from the solar array will be reinvested into a community fund that local groups can apply for – including fuel poverty and local community projects – and details on how to apply will be given later in the year.

Those that have invested in the three-year bond offer will have the option to stay with this product, or switch to the two-year offer.

For further informaion on the project and how to invest, visit: www.ethex.org.uk/Bristolbond.