Co-operative businesses are owned and run by and for their members, whether they are customers, employees or residents. Renewable energy co-operatives are becoming an increasingly popular method of developing renewable energy projects in the UK. As shares can be sold for £250 each (or less in some cases) ownership is within the reach of the majority of people and provided the project is profitable each shareholder will receive an annual dividend for the lifetime of the project. Co-operative share issues can enable community organisations to raise the necessary funds to develop and construct a renewable energy project.
The co-operative model has the potential to create a renewable energy project where all of the benefit is received by the nearby community.
Islay Energy Trust is a local example of an organisation which has used a share issue to generate funding for a renewable project.
"The Islay Energy Community Benefit Society (IECBS) has successfully raised the £1.27 million needed for investment in its community wind project. £535,000 was raised by the Islay Energy Community Benefit Society (IECBS) share offer which closed on 31st March, and the remaining £735,000 has been secured as a loan from the Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF). This is believed to be the first community wind project in Scotland to be part-funded by a community benefit society." - Islay Energy Trust Website
Support and advice on co-operatives is available from:
Energy4All is a co-operative that specialises in the set up and running of renewable energy co-operatives in the UK. Their website contains advice on the benefits of renewable energy co-operatives, a step by step guide to co-operative development as well as links to existing renewable energy cooperatives throughout the UK. The also list current share offers.
Co-operatives UK is the national trade body that campaigns for co-operation and works to promote develop and unite co-operative enterprises. The co-operative UK website contains several free resources explaining about the set up and running of a co-operative.
Development Trust Association Scotland can provide support and advice to new or existing development trusts whether a co-operative share issue is suitable for your project or not. They also offer a helpful publication on Community Share and Bond Issue publication.
Co-operative development Scotland (CDS) supports the development of co-operative and employee-owned enterprises across Scotland. CDS are a Scottish Enterprise subsidiary, and work in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. CDS proactively support the growth of key industries where collaboration is crucial to competitiveness.