Stratford-Upon-Avon’s community solar battery farm to create local opportunities

Community energy supplier Mongoose Energy has secured finance for what it claims is the UK’s biggest community energy project.

The 14.7MW solar and battery farm in Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 4,500 UK homes.

The batteries have been accredited for subsidy-backed revenue streams, including feed-in tariffs (FITs) and renewables obligation certificates (ROCs).

The 75-acre Drayton Manor site will be designed, built and maintained by renewable energy developer Anesco. The site is expected to deliver £4.8m in local community benefits over the project’s 20-year lifetime. Anesco executive chairman Steve Shine said that, along with investor returns, the site will help create jobs and reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

The company has recently announced proposals to bring 185MW of energy onto the grid by 2018.

Community energy portfolio impressive

This project takes Mongoose Energy’s total solar assets under management to more than 80MW which represents more than half of the total community-owned renewable assets in England and Wales. Currently, its community energy portfolio has the potential to generate enough electricity to power 22,000 homes.

Mark Kenber, Chief Executive of Mongoose Energy said in a statement: “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. Our new crowdfunding platform is also helping make personal investments in clean energy easier, more profitable and more democratic.”

Mongoose crowdfunding

Investor Social & Sustainable Capital (SASC) is providing bridge finance for the project.  Mongoose will start to repay the investment through a series of community share and bond offers before the site is transferred into full community ownership.

Bond financing will be launched on the company’s new crowdfunding platform Mongoose Crowd, which has already raised more than £1m for renewable energy projects in the UK since June, with investors typically receiving 4.5-4.7% returns on their investments. The platform enables investors to purchase bonds within a pioneering tax-free Individual Savings Account (ISA) wrapper.

Mongoose Chief Executive Mark Kenber describes the project as “great opportunity for community energy to fundamentally change the way energy is generated, owned and supplied across the country.” He added: “Businesses that invest in decentralised energy systems can enjoy the triple benefit of economic value, security of supply and telling a good story.”

Community ownership

Mongoose Energy's head of generation, Robert Rabinowitz, says that the company was keen to acquire more community interest company solar companies, and urged commercial solar owners to consider moving their sites into community ownership.

"This transaction is just the beginning of a process to maximise the community benefit that we can achieve from these assets," he added.