The UK’s first community-owned wind farm has officially opened this week with operator Ripple Energy staging a light show which projected the names of the owners on to the turbine tower.
Ripple Energy has pioneered an innovative new ownership model, which has seen 907 owners of the new Graig Fatha turbine in South Wales contribute a total £2.2m to fund the project.
The owners will now source their power from the turbine, with Ripple estimating they will see average annual savings of around 25 per cent on their energy bills across the turbine’s 25-year lifespan.
Current high energy prices mean the average Graig Fatha owner is set to save £340 over the coming year, with most members owning enough of the wind farm to meet their entire homes’ power consumption.
“This project demonstrates how wind farm ownership can free consumers from volatile, high energy prices and dependence on imported energy,” said Sarah Merrick, CEO of Ripple Energy. “Ripple’s 907 members will be generating their own low cost, green energy for the next 25 years. This shows better energy solutions, that give people real power, are available today.”
She added that the official opening of the turbine marked a major milestone for the company, which was founded in 2017 with a view to providing consumers with the ability to own clean power assets in a way that would reduce their bills and cut carbon emissions.
“Our members believe passionately in the power of green energy,” she said. “This is their wind farm; they’ve made it happen; they’ll get its electricity. Projecting their names onto the turbine feels like wonderful recognition of what they’ve achieved.”
The electricity generated by the Graig Fatha wind farm is sold to Co-op Energy, powered by Octopus, which subsequently supplies the owners with discounted electricity.
The discount is based on how much energy it generates, electricity prices, and the amount of the turbine owned by the customer.
Ripple said the approach meant customers can be confident that they will save money on their electricity bills and have relatively stable bills over the long term. The approach also means that unlike the installation of on-site renewables technologies, such as rooftop solar panels, households can continue to access power from their clean energy assets even if they move.
Alongside the 907 members shares, the Graig Fatha development was supported by a £1.1m grant by the Welsh Government and income generated from the government’s supported portion of the wind farm will now be channelled towards initiatives supporting people facing fuel poverty in the local area, through the wind farm’s Community Benefit Fund (CBF).
The opening comes as Ripple Energy continues to work on plans for a second wind farm in Ayrshire, Scotland.
“With energy prices at their highest in a generation, now is the perfect time to own your own source of low cost, green power,” said Merrick. “By owning a wind farm you can reduce your energy bills and stabilise them for the long term. Fortunately, there is still time to do just that by signing up to be a part of our second wind farm in Scotland, which is open for members today.”
The company said consumers can choose how much of a wind farm they would like to purchase, starting from as little as £25.