Community business trust Power to Change and social investment firm Big Society Capital have joined forces to form Community-Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE), which aims to acquire six to eight solar farms over the next 12 months and transfer ownership to community energy groups.
The community groups will have up to three years to raise the necessary funding, Power to Change said.
In its first project, CORE has purchased the 5 MW Newton Downs solar PV farm in Devon from renewable power supplier Good Energy and plans to sell it to local group Yealm Community Energy. A timeframe for the sale was not given.
The PV farm (pictured), which came online in January 2017 and provides power for around 1400 households, is predicted to generate over £1.4m ($1.9m) in income for local organizations and projects over its lifetime.
Power to Change and Big Society Capital said the new partnership aims to “tackle a key market failure in the energy sector: how to facilitate community ownership of existing ground-mounted solar farms in England and maximize the social, environmental and financial impact they generate for their local area”.
Juliet Davenport, Good Energy CEO, said her firm was “thrilled to be able to pass the Newton Downs site back to community hands” and that Good Energy would “continue working with the site having committed to an ongoing purchase of power from them.”
Vidhya Alakeson, head of Power to Change, said: “We are really excited to be investing part of our endowment in community energy assets in this pioneering approach in partnership with Big Society Capital.
“By getting further involved in this sector, Power to Change is demonstrating how community businesses are stepping in to address market failure and creating assets that really benefit their communities.”
And Jeremy Rogers, chief investment officer at Big Society Capital, said: “Locally owned energy can help generate long-term revenue streams for local issues, such as fuel poverty. We are particularly excited to be partnering with Power to Change on their leading work in building community businesses.”