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United Kingdom

Keen response to share issue

Investors in the UK are being invited to buy into wind farms under a share issue launched in May, the second by The Wind Fund, which hopes to raise more than £6 million for renewable energy projects.

Minimum subscription is just £260 for 200 shares. According to The Wind Fund, this is to allow as many people as possible to take part. This latest issue was launched on the Internet. Visitors to the web site can download the full prospectus and print out a share application form.

Investments are pooled to provide equity capital for projects that conform to The Wind Fund's code of practice covering planning and public consultation. To reduce investment risk, projects chosen would probably have a 15 year power purchase contract under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation.

The launch generated a flurry of publicity in the national press and radio. It has some heavyweight backing, including that of energy minister John Battle. He comments: "I want to encourage public support and extend community involvement in both the planning and ownership of green energy schemes. The Wind Fund is an excellent instrument to achieve this."

Glen Saunders from The Wind Fund stresses the "double returns" on investment: "Indicative long term financial returns of more than 9% and lasting environmental benefits." He calculates that 1000 shares costing £1300 would finance enough generating capacity to meet the average household's electricity demand. This would cut its contribution to carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas, by 40%.

The fund was set up in 1995 in the UK by Triodos Bank of the Netherlands to invest in small scale projects. Its first share issue in the UK raised £575,000, which is invested in the Haverigg II wind cluster in Cumbria and a small hydro scheme at Beochlich in Argyll.

Less than one week after the latest launch, Simon Roberts from The Wind Fund says the company was pleased by the public's response. "The applications are coming in and we are getting a lot of interest through the web site." Two investment projects are already lined up for equity funding from the new share issue," he says.

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