Westmill Solar Co-operative

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Westmill Solar Park with part of Westmill Wind Farm in the background.

Westmill Solar Co-operative is the industrial and provident society that owns the Westmill Solar Park in Oxfordshire, England, believed to be the largest community-owned photovoltaic power station in the world.

Project[edit]

The project was originally conceived by Adam Twine, the pioneer behind the neighbouring Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative, built in 2011 and registered for the UK feed-in tariffs. It has a capacity of 5 MWP.

Westmill Solar Co-operative acquired the solar park in October 2012, under an option agreement with the original developers. It raised the necessary finance through public and private share offers and a senior debt bond with a pension fund.

Westmill Solar Park[edit]

Westmill solar park is in the United Kingdom located on a site of 30 acres near to Watchfield, on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border, just off the A420. The site adjoins that of the Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative.

The solar power plant has over 21,000 solar panels[1] and has been operational since July 2011.

When acquired by the Co-operative, it was the largest community-owned photovoltaic power station in the world.[2]

Co-operative membership and equity[edit]

Visitors at a Westmill Solar Co-operative Open Day at Westmill Solar Park.

The Co-operative invited members through a public share offer, launched in June 2012. Despite the tight timetable caused by the expiry date on the option,[3] the issue was 50% over-subscribed,[4] when it closed at the end of July. This raised £4m from c. 1,650 members.[5]

An additional c. £2m was raised by a private placement of B-Shares, mainly from members who had subscribed to the original issue.

Other financing[edit]

The Co-operative raised the balance of funding required in the form of a 23½-year senior debt bond. This was arranged with the Lancashire County Council Pension Fund,[6] in what was believed to be the first major funding by a local authority in community-owned energy infrastructure.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Solar Park". Westmill Solar Co-operative. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Bredenberg, Al (5 November 2011). "British Cooperative Launches World's Largest Community-Owned Solar Park". inhabitat. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Goodall, Chris (27 July 2012). "Bid to create world's largest community solar farm reaches funding milestone". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Investors rush to get shares in community solar farm business". Oxford Times. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Members". Westmill Solar Co-operative. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Browne, Dominic (7 February 2013). "Lancashire invests pension fund into solar cooperative". LocalGov. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Blackburne, Alex (8 February 2013). "Westmill solar co-op gets £12m backing from Lancashire council pension fund". Blue & Green Tomorrow. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 

External links[edit]