Construction work on the UK’s “first ever” consumer-owned onshore wind turbine has been completed in South Wales, as part of a novel crowndfunding scheme led by Ripple Energy which it claims could help save its customers up to 25 per cent on their energy bills.
The Graig Fatha wind turbine in Coedely has been funded through Ripple Energy’s collective clean energy ownership business model, which saw £2.2m raised from 907 consumers to help develop the project, in addition to a £1.1m grant from the Welsh Government.
Having invested £25 or more each in the project through Ripple Energy, the 907 co-owners of the wind turbine could now see annual average home energy bill savings of around 25 per cent over the course of Graig Fatha’s 25-year lifespan, according to the firm.
While not directly powering the homes of those who funded it, the turbine generates electricity that is sold to Co-op Energy – an energy supplier owned by Octopus – which subsequently supplies the owners of the turbine with discounted electricity.
Ripple Energy said over 80 per cent of those investing in the Graig Fatha project had bought enough shares to power their entire homes’ consumption through the power generated by the wind turbine, arguing that as such its consumer-ownership model is “greener than a green tariff”, as it leads to direct investment in new clean energy capacity.
Ripple Energy’s CEO Sarah Merrick said completion of the Graig Fatha wind turbine – the first renewables project developed through its crowdfunding model – marked “a huge moment” for the company.
“Thanks to the 907 Graig Fatha members, we have built the UK’s first wind farm to be 100 per cent owned by the customers it supplies,” she said. “Every person who had purchased shares is a member of something very special.”
The discount Ripple Energy members receive is based on how much energy the wind turbine generates, electricity prices, and the proportion of the project owned by the customers, meaning “customers can be confident that not only will their energy prices stay low, but they will also remain stable amidst the current energy crisis,” the firm said.
The average Ripple Energy share owner in Graig Fatha could save £197 per year on electricity bills for a four bedroom house, while also helping them save 1.1 million kg of CO2 emissions, according to the firm.
Ripple Energy is now plotting its second consumer-owned wind farm, with plans to begin offering share purchases in the project from £25 upwards in 2022. Around 3,000 people have so far registered their interest in investing in the project, and vouchers for these shares can be purchased now, it said.
“Ripple’s pioneering project demonstrates the success of a consumer ownership model in wind which can be replicated across the country,” said Merrick. “As the UK government continues to push for new green initiatives to help reach our net zero goals, we are proud to support consumers directly fund cheap, clean renewable energy in a simple way.”