Households can pay up front to part own the one-turbine project in exchange for receiving the power it generates, in a first for the UK's wind industry
An energy start-up has today kicked off a project that offers customers the chance to buy a share in a new wind farm in Wales in exchange for receiving the electricity it will produce.
Ripple Energy claims the 2.5MW Graig Fatha wind project in South Wales will be the UK's first consumer-owned wind farm.
The firm is aiming to sign up 2,000 customers to fund the development costs of the one-turbine wind project, which is scheduled to come online early next year.
Customers who buy shares in the wind farm cooperative will be securing the right to use the energy the wind farm produces. Ripple Energy claims the investment will slash annual electricity bills for thosethat join the scheme by as much as 25 per cent.
Ripple Energy founder and chief executive Sarah Merrick said the venture, which follows in the footsteps of the more-established consumer-owned solar sector, could help drive a "better, cleaner future".
"The move to a zero-carbon world opens up completely new ways of doing things," she said. "You can't own a bit of a coal or nuclear power station to supply your home with electricity, but you absolutely can own a bit of a wind farm. Huge change is now possible, and people are embracing it."
An upfront spend of roughly £1,900 on the Graig Fatha project would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of a typical household for 25 years, Ripple Energy has estimated. However, customers can choose to take a stake for as little as £250, in a purchase that would cover roughly 12.5 per cent of a typical home's annual electricity.
The start-up estimates that customers that invest it the farm will reduce their annual electricity bill by an average of 26 per cent.
Ripple Energy has partnered with two utilities - Co-op Energy and Octopus Energy - to ensure the electricity from the wind farm arrives at its owners' homes.
Greg Jackson, chief executive of Octopus Energy, said that the project was "a huge leap forward" for the UK's grid. "Investing in more renewable energy and powering your own homes when the wind is blowing can end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels faster than we hoped," he said. "We're excited to get to work with Ripple Energy to make this investment more accessible and affordable than ever before. Soon anyone can benefit from the ‘green dividends' this will provide, offsetting their own energy bills with an investment in the energy grid of the future."
Meanwhile Tom Hoines, managing director of Co-op Community Energy, also praised the project as a landmark moment in UK energy history. "The partnership with Ripple is a significant milestone in changing the way in which we power the UK, giving more people the opportunity to directly own how their electricity is generated," he said.
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