Social enterprise raises £82,000 to back community energy projects

Communities for Renewables CIC (CfR), a community interest company set up by Regen SW and Green Trust CIC, has announced today it has successfully raised £82,000 investment.

The company has exceeded its minimum target of £50,000 and will now leave the issue open until the end of May to seek the maximum target of £150,000.

The shares are eligible for the new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), a tax based government incentive to encourage investment in new businesses, and CfR’s directors believe it is one of the first community interest companies to use the SEIS scheme to raise investment for social enterprise.

Non-exec chair, Jonathan Johns, said: “The success of this fundraising lays the foundation for a new way of funding both Communities for Renewables CIC and the community energy projects we help to develop. By achieving SEIS for a community interest company I hope we have set a precedent that will be followed by other social enterprises.”

Prior to launching the fundraising, CfR secured a £300,000 seed loan facility from leading social investor, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. CfR will use the funds to help local community energy co-operatives to develop wind, solar and renewable heat generation schemes. Only projects that benefit the host communities through co-operative ownership, generating income to re-invest in the community, and where possible local energy supply arrangements will be supported.

CfR’s managing director, Jake Burnyeat, said: “Community ownership models are common in Denmark and Germany. By bringing risk investment and professional resources required to get a project through the development process Communities for Renewables CIC aims to make community renewables mainstream in the UK.

“Initiatives such as the WREN co-operative in Wadebridge, Cornwall are demonstrating the potential of local energy schemes as a low carbon local economic development model that can play a key role in the sustainability of our communities.”

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, added: “I believe we need a revolution in the way renewable energy is developed so that communities can keep more of the value of their resources locally. Communities for Renewables CIC is a groundbreaking initiative to work in partnership with communities to develop renewable energy projects.”