Triodos Bank UK is launching an £850,000 community renewable energy bond offer on its crowdfunding platform (triodoscrowdfunding.co.uk) for Ferry Farm Community Solar Limited (Ferry Farm CBS). The finance will support a 5MW community-owned, operational solar farm generating renewable power and using its surplus income to support local organisations and projects.
Built in 2016, Ferry Farm Solar in Selsey near Chichester (West Sussex), has 18,700 solar panels which generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of approximately 1,500 homes (5,400 megawatt hours).
The solar farm was constructed as a commercial enterprise but was brought into full community ownership by Ferry Farm Community Benefit Society (Ferry Farm CBS) in March 2020 through use of bridge financing. Ferry Farm CBS secured a long-term loan from Triodos Bank UK in September 2020, which refinanced the majority of the bridging loan. The crowdfunding bond will repay the remainder of this loan and secure the long-term finance arrangements for the solar farm.
Ferry Farm CBS has access to Triodos Bank’s unique Triodos Community Renewables Underwriting Facility (TCRUF) for this bond offer. This initiative involves Triodos Bank UK providing a co-investment and underwriting facility by buying up to 425,000 bonds should it be required. TCRUF is offered by the bank to provide the match funding support needed by community energy enterprises seeking finance to build, acquire or refinance renewable assets.
Ferry Farm CBS has gifted over £135,000 to its local community since 2017 and has played a pivotal role supporting those severely impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic. This has included supplying laptops to schools in the local area to enable remote learning, funding the work of the local foodbank for a year, establishing a hardship fund and delivering meals to those isolating and shielding. Over the solar farm’s lifetime of 25 years, it is expected to generate up to £2 million of community funding.
The bond has a term of 14.5 years paying 4% gross interest annually, rising with inflation. As with all investments, interest payments and return of capital are not guaranteed. There is a £100 minimum investment, and the bond is eligible to be held in a Triodos Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) that allows interest to be received tax-free. ISA eligibility does not guarantee returns or protect consumers from losing their money.
The solar farm is managed by Community for Renewables CIC, which helps set up and support local energy enterprises to develop, finance and manage their renewable energy generation.
Jake Burnyeat, director of Communities for RenewablesCIC, said: “After being involved in a number of successful bond launches with Triodos we’re delighted to be offering this exciting offer to investors. As well as its importance in renewable energy generation, which contributes to the UK’s transition to green energy, the project has been a lifeline to its community during the Covid pandemic. It keeps delivering positive impact time and time again and the crowdfunding capital will bolster its financial resilience as well as its ability to support the community even further.”
Dan Hird, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank UK, said: “Community energy projects play a vital role in the UK renewable energy sector, providing community empowerment and outstanding support to their communities in times of need. The ability they have to rapidly mobilise funds and help local people is fantastic. Our investors want to support initiatives that deliver positive impact to the planet, its people and communities and this project achieves all three of these.”
Investments offered on the Triodos crowdfunding platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell, and you may not get back the full amount invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and your capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed. Repayment of capital and interest will be dependent on the success of the organisation’s business model and past performance isn’t a reliable indicator of future performance. You should always read the offer document in full before deciding whether to invest as it will cover risks specific to an individual investment. You can read more about the general risks associated with making these types of investments here. If you are unsure if any of these investments are right for you, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.