The UK’s first ever Council Solar Bonds, launched just five weeks ago by Swindon Borough Council and leading peer-to-peer investment platform Abundance, have got off to a very strong start.
The bonds have already attracted over £ 727,000 in investment which represents 41% of the total amount of £1.8m available to small investors. The Council will also be investing £3m, with proceeds of the bond offer used to fund construction of the Swindon Community Solar Farm at Common Farm, Wroughton.
The Bond offers people living in the Swindon area and further afield the chance to earn a bank-beating effective rate of return of 6% over its 20-year term, while benefiting from the lower risk inherent in investing alongside Swindon Borough Council. Investments start from just £5 and an “early bird bonus” of 0.5% for the first five years will boost returns for those investing before 11 April.
Bruce Davis, Managing Director of Abundance, said: “Swindon Council Solar Bonds have been one of the most popular investments we’ve launched on Abundance, and we’re really pleased with the enthusiastic response we’ve had from local investors, with over 300 people from the Swindon area opening accounts with us so far.
“It proves there’s a local appetite for investments that offer a benefit for the community as well as a good financial return. I would urge anyone thinking of investing not to delay if you want to take advantage of our early bird bonus, which expires in a week.”
The bonds are currently being promoted throughout the Swindon area with Abundance’s characteristic pink advertisements appearing at the train station, on roadside hoardings and in local press. Swindon Borough Council has also advised local residents about the investment opportunity through its council-tax leaflet which has been delivered to most of the households in the town.
Helen Browning, President of the Soil Association and a Swindon resident, said: “You can’t be anything other than enthusiastic when local government starts to take an active interest in green energy, alongside other environmental affairs. It’s an urban-based borough council in Swindon, of course, and people like us at the rural margins probably get a little bit forgotten in our efforts to make things a bit more environmentally lovely, which is what we try to do in all our activities. But everyone’s got to start somewhere and Swindon’s Solar Bonds seem like a great way to engage local people with the benefits of renewables.”
A Community Interest Company, wholly owned by Swindon Borough Council, would own and manage the solar farm. Revenues will be raised from selling the electricity generated, as well as support from the Feed In Tariff subsidy (FIT).
The solar farm was pre-accredited for the FIT before government policy changes at the start of the year, so revenues are guaranteed by the government for 20 years. Sixty-five per cent of the distributable profits from the solar farm will go towards funding local community initiatives, with the remaining 35% going to the Council.
The bond offer will remain open for investment until 30 June. Investing is quick and easy via the Abundance website, www.abundanceinvestment.com/Swindon .