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Democratic finance for UK wind power scheme

By Adrian Bishop - 17 Jul 2012 12:17:41 GMT
Democratic finance for UK wind power scheme

Credit: © Abundance NRG Ltd

A new way of directly funding renewable energy generation projects in the UK has been launched by Abundance, allowing people to invest as little as £5.

Abundance has teamed up with Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns (REGD) plc to try and attract a total investment of up to £1.4 million for a 500kW wind turbine development in the Forest of Dean.

Abundance says it will offer returns of 6.75-8% to investors who put anything from £5 to £50,000 into the REGD project at Great Dunkilns Farm. It is also offering cash rebates for some early investors.

Louise Wilson, Joint Managing Director of Abundance, says, "We call it 'democratic finance'. Our mission is to create a renewables revolution by giving people the opportunity to invest in renewables projects - whether they have £5 or £50,000 - and enjoy a good regular return. We know today's investors want more control over where their money is going and how it's being used."

She likens Abundance to a building society, where people invest in renewables projects that provide regular revenue and growth.

The company hopes that it can eventually attract tens of thousands of UK investors to help finance more eco-friendly energy generation projects.

Joint Managing Director, Co-Founder Bruce Davis, says there are many renewable energy schemes that are well meaning, but often they can't attract large scale funding quick enough. That is where Abundance can help.

Small investors would like more control over how their money is invested, Abundance customer research suggests. They want a decent return on their investment, while making a real difference to society.

In Europe, mass ownership of energy generation schemes is more common, with 86% of wind farm projects in Denmark and half of projects in Germany being owned by locals. The strong community involvement also helps overcome local opposition.

Abundance Generation projects are open to investors aged over 18. The company is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The offer document and full details about the REGD scheme, which is the first from The Resilience Centre, is available via the Abundance website.

Bruce Davis also founded Zopa in 2005, the world's first online 'peer-to-peer' lending marketplace. It now has around half a million members who have now lent more than £190 million at rates agreed between themselves.

Louise Wilson is the former head of UBS' EMEA Equity Capital Markets.

Co-Founder, entrepreneur, Karl Harder, who is Abundance's Head of Operations, started work on the renewable energy investment idea while taking an MBA at Imperial College, London.

The Abundance debenture is a type of bond, which is often used by large companies to borrow money, but they often provide a variable return linked to performance. Abundance is the first to use debentures so small investors can help finance renewable energy projects in the UK.

It claims effective rates of return are expected to average 5-9% over the life of the investment.

REGD is a partnership between The Resilience Centre and Anthony Cooke. Andrew Clarke, the Director of the Resilience Centre, and Anthony Cooke are both Foresters and local pioneers when it comes to renewable energy.

Anthony owns Great Dunkilns Farm, which features a processing unit producing Wye Valley Bacon and Sausage products. He is looking at using electric vans to distribute goods once the turbine is operational.

Environmental, energy and strategy consultants Andrew and Sue Clarke set up the Resilience Centre Ltd, which provides practical and professional support to help build resilience in society and find solutions to reduce people's impact on the planet.

It is also working for The Midcounties Co-operative on a micro-hydro scheme on the River Lyd, near Lydney, in the Forest of Dean.

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Topics: Wind Energy / Renewable Energy