Local residents are set to be offered the chance to invest up to £1.8 million in the newly completed Kilbraur Wind Energy Co-operative, the largest wind farm co-op in the UK.
Shares in the facility, the latest community project from wind co-operative specialists Energy4All, are worth £1 each and will be available to buy from August 27 up to October 24. A minimum purchase of £250 is required, however residents can invest up to £20,000.
The share offer is open to everyone in the UK, however priority will be given to residents of Sutherland, followed by Caithness, Ross-shire and City of Inverness, then the rest of Scotland and other Energy 4 All co-operatives.
Currently, 14 of Kilbraur’s 19 turbines are due to be commissioned and a spokesperson for Energy4All told New Energy Focus that they are hoping to have all turbines fully operational by mid-September.
At 47.5MW the farm will be the largest wind energy co-operative in the UK, and plans by London-based developers Falck Renewables to expand it by a further 8 turbines are currently being scoped by the planning authorities. If the expansion gets the green light, Kilbraur shareholders will be offered rights to invest further in the co-operative, and see a proportionate return on their shares.
But Paul Phare, Scotland development manager at Energy4All, said that they’d like to raise awareness of the benefits of the co-op: “We do struggle to get people to understand what a co-op is. But when they do understand, people get involved.”
“We’re ethical, green and democratic – we have local people on the boards for each co-op. With Kilbraur we’d like our existing members to take an interest, and we’d particularly like people from the local town of Inverness to invest. If we can match our other projects and reach £1 million of investment, then we’ll be very happy.”
Kilbraur is the 16th project that Cumbria-based Energy4All has pioneered. The company, which has worked in partnership with Falck renewables on a number of wind farms, specialises in buying stakes in newly developed wind farms, and turning them over to community ownership.
These co-operatives are modelled on the successful Baywind Energy Co-op in Cumbria. Baywind has about 1,350 members and has operated since 1996. It now owns and runs its own commercial wind farm, makes regular share interest payments to its members and supports local environmental schemes.