Mongoose Energy has completed the financing of a 14.7MW solar farm in Warwickshire, in what the company described as the UK’s “biggest ever community energy deal”.
The 75-acre project at Drayton Manor near Stratford-Upon-Avon was designed and built by renewable developer Anesco, which will also maintain the site.
The development has been acquired by a community benefit society created by Mongoose Energy. The firm says the deal will see around £4.8 million of benefits paid out to the local community over the 20-year lifetime of the project.
Bridging finance for the purchase was provided by Social and Sustainable Capital. The debt will be repaid via a series of share and bond offers in the autumn, which will be hosted on Mongoose’s crowdfunding platform Mongoose Crowd. Once the re-financing process is complete, the project will be transferred to full community ownership.
“Our ability to raise finance for a project of this size shows community energy is alive and kicking in the UK, driven by people’s desire to make greener choices about their investments and their energy supply,” said Mongoose Energy chief executive Mark Kenber.
“Our new crowdfunding platform is also helping make personal investments in clean energy easier, more profitable and more democratic.”
Mongoose Energy head of generation Robert Rabinowitz said: “This transaction is just the beginning of a process to maximise the community benefit that we can achieve from these assets.
“We are also keen to acquire more community interest company solar sites and urge commercial owners of such sites to get in contact so that we can help them to put such assets where they belong, into community ownership.”
The solar farm has secured subsidies through the feed-in tariff and renewables obligation and features co-located batteries which have also been accredited under the schemes. This ensures that the use of storage does not result in lower subsidy payments.
Anesco executive chairman Steve Shine said: “Hybrid sites such as this, which combine solar with energy storage on scale, are at the heart of the UK’s smart energy revolution. The site at Drayton Manor will not only offer returns to investors but help reduce the country’s carbon emissions and create jobs.”
The deal means Mongoose Energy now has over 80MW of solar assets under management – more than half of all community-owned renewable energy assets in England and Wales. To date, the firm has raised over £90 million to put renewable assets into community ownership, including over £22 million through community share and bond offers.