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Kickstart loan launched to scale community projects

Younity blog | Dec 2022

Bristol Community Energy Kickstart


£1.5m Kickstart launched by Octopus Energy and Midcounties Co-operative JV to bridge vital project startup costs for community energy projects 

1st advance given to Bristol Energy Cooperative for 1 MW rooftop solar project[node:summary]

Helps unleash important contribution of Britain’s community energy projects

London, 16th December 2022 - Younity, the Octopus Energy and Midcounties Co-operative joint venture, has launched the Community Energy Kickstart initiative, to help bridge the funds needed to kickstart community energy groups’ renewable projects. 

Younity is a community energy leader, helping community energy groups operate and grow. The £1.5m Kickstart streamlines the process that comes with traditional and prohibitively expensive financing from banks. It bridges startup costs like buying solar panels or wind turbines, helping green power projects created and run for the benefit of the local community quickly scale - so they can generate more cheap green power for their community. 

Younity’s Kickstart has given its first advance to Bristol Energy Cooperative to help with their 1 MW rooftop solar project in Hengrove, South Bristol. The project is based at the Bottle Yard Studios, which is owned and run by Bristol City Council.

The Kickstart will help unleash the significant potential of Britain’s 400+ community energy groups with 319 MW of renewable energy capacity*. Younity already supports around half of these groups and the community energy sector is set to reach 5 GW+ by 2030**. 

Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Generation commented: “Community energy projects are vital in bringing more secure, cheap, clean energy closer to communities who’ll benefit. Launching this initiative will help unleash the sector’s potential and tap into the growing demand for home-grown green power and lower bills.”

Phil Ponsonby, CEO of Midcounties Co-operative commented: “This is a significant step in the right direction to help community energy projects get up and running quicker than ever before. This is all about bridging the funding gap for community energy groups to facilitate renewable power projects and create locally owned sustainable solutions.”  

Andy O'Brien, Co-founder and Director of Bristol Energy Cooperative, added: “We’re really passionate about the positive impact of green power on our community. We’re over the moon to have got such affordable access to the funds we needed to build our latest solar community energy project so we can generate more green energy for our community.”

To qualify for the Kickstart initiative, projects can apply for an advance on funds and once they reach their community share-raising phase, this is paid back to Younity. This allows for a flow of funds for the next waves of the growing community energy movement.

Younity will work with the projects supported by the Community Energy Kickstart to secure Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). This means offering fair pricing to community energy groups, which supports their community benefit funds and local projects like fuel poverty or education. Excess energy is supplied to Co-op Community Power Tariff customers, the UK’s only tariff powered by renewable electricity from community projects. 

Younity has signed 200 energy supply agreements for community energy groups, across 136 solar sites, 22 wind sites and 42 hydro sites, everywhere from Scotland to Cornwall.