Customers to own under-development wind farm in ‘UK first’

Ripple Energy, which was founded by Vestas’ former head of public affairs Sarah Merrick, plans to sign up 2,000 UK households to crowdfund the £4.1 million (€4.6 million) turbine in south Wales.

The 2.5MW Graig Fatha wind turbine, located near Coedely, received construction consent in 2018, but Ripple needs to secure investment by the end of July to proceed with the project.

Two years ago, the 6.9MW Mean Moor wind farm in Cumbria, England, became the first 100% community owned wind project in the UK after three renewable energy cooperatives raised £2.8 million in refinancing. The project is adjacent to the original Baywind project, which introduced an element of cummunity ownership in the UK in 1996.

Meanwhile, consumers will own Graig Fatha before it is built – a UK first, Ripple claimed.

Former UK energy minister Amber Rudd claimed the interests of onshore wind developers and the UK public were at odds, when the Conservative government ended the renewable obligation support scheme for onshore wind in 2016.

Two thirds of respondents to a 2018 government survey said onshore wind should be built in areas that support it. Last year the government unveiled plans to reinstate onshore wind to the UK’s contract for differences (CfD) tender scheme.

Graig Fatha

Ripple Energy is offering shares at £1,900. It anticipates that this investment would be paid back within 14 years — just under 60% of the project’s estimated 25-year lifespan. According to Ripple, due to the “current low power prices partly due to Covid-19” savings are lower than projected at around 15% of a typical electricity bill. 

Ripple will make £206,000 for its part in setting up the deal.

The construction of the wind turbine is expected to begin in September with the project planned to come online in 2021 under an arrangement with developer Co-op Energy and utility Octopus Energy.

“The move to a zero-carbon world opens up completely new ways of doing things,” Merrick 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.”