Virgin Money has completed a new £14m deal to support Ripple Energy in the development of a pioneering new 18.8MW wind farm in Ayrshire, Scotland that will be part-owned by both individuals and small businesses via a co-operative.
The deal will facilitate the construction and operation of eight turbines at the Kirk Hill Wind Farm near Girvan, which will be capable of generating enough electricity to power approximately 20,000 homes and save over 31,760 tonnes of CO₂ emissions each year when fully commissioned in the first quarter of 2024 and will generate enough electricity to power a home for a year in less than 10 minutes.
In line with Virgin Money’s goal to at least halve carbon emissions across everything they finance by 2030, this is another major step towards achieving 10% of the business loan book being comprised of Sustainability Changemakers by FY27. The bank already supports all established renewable technologies across the UK, but the latest loan brings with it an extra sustainability dimension.
Ripple Energy is leading the way with an innovative co-operative business model for renewable energy deployment. Ripple enables both households and businesses to own their own share of a large-scale wind farm through a co-operative, and have its low cost green energy supplied to their homes via the grid. The new Ayrshire wind farm will be part owned by more than 5,600 households both locally and throughout Great Britain, together with 19 SME businesses and commercial property investor and developer Bruntwood, after it purchased a 42.2% share in the co-operative owned site in an industry first. Instead of receiving dividends as a return on their investment, these green stakeholders will benefit from stable power for a greener future.
The £14m financial package Virgin Money has agreed takes the bank’s total investment in energy and environment financing close to £250m. This is another step on the way to its aim to grow energy and environment lending to £500m by FY25 and underpins its commitment as a major player in the financing of the UK’s ambitious journey to Carbon Net Zero by 2050.
“We are accelerating our drive to fast-track more renewable projects to contribute to the carbon reduction journey as quickly as possible,” says Adam Heslop, Virgin Money’s Senior Director, Renewable Energy. “It’s particularly pleasing to facilitate this project alongside Ripple Energy’s team who have an excellent track record of developing renewable energy projects successfully and effectively. The strength and experience of our Renewables Team helped us understand their unique business model and see its potential for growth. There is also the bonus of involving individuals, businesses and local communities UK wide directly in the investment and the rewards of the project.”
Ripple Founder & CEO Sarah Merrick says: “We are extremely pleased Virgin Money made a proactive approach to Ripple. Alongside our members, this support is helping to drive a momentous shift towards consumer ownership in the energy market. We want these pioneering projects to become a blueprint for consumer-owned wind farms and solar parks around the world. We want to create a wave of green energy ownership that enables people to make a real climate impact, as well as stabilising their energy bills.”
Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood, said: “We’re committed to a sustainable and fair future, and we were proud to be the very first commercial property business in the UK to invest in a co-operative owned Wind Farm. It’s fantastic to see Virgin Money back the development at Kirk Hill wind farm, which is a landmark project for green energy in the UK.”