Image credit: Whitby Esk Energy
From community-owned wind farms overcoming NIMBYism to local residents installing solar panels on a nearby brewery roof, people power is on the rise. And with energy costs rising, and traditional investments looking ever shakier, it's little wonder that communities are banding together to find places to put their money that both protect the environment and increase local resilience. One community in the North of England is looking to raise UK£320,000 (about US$550,000) to install hydropower on their local river—creating enough energy to supply 55 homes. Ironically, the share appeal seems to be attracting national attention. Whitby Esk Energy in North Yorkshire, England, has issued a UK£320,000 share appeal to install a "fish friendly" 50kw Archimedes screw hydroelectric turbine on the river Esk. The purpose of the project is to both generate clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, but also to channel the income generated into further local clean energy projects too. And while sales of shares are primarily focused on the local area, the media attention that the scheme has won seems to be attracting investors from across the country. (I know of one person in the South West who is planning to invest, having gotten sick of the shenanigans of mainstream financial institutions.)
As the Independent reports, the Esk hydro turbine is only intended to be the beginnings of something much bigger:
And that could just be the start of it. The group, which comprises 10 like-minded folk who all live in or within 20 miles of the Esk Valley, has ambitious plans. With surplus money from their electricity-generating business, they hope to develop a grant system towards the installation of solar, wind and water energy generating systems in the Valley. They also plan to promote green energy educational programmes and apprenticeships.
As I noted in my post on a local restaurant with an "everybody eats" policy, community- and values-based investing is about much more than just supplying funding. By securing financing from groups that share an organization's values and goals, the initiative is freed up to focus on more than just the bottom line. Sure, many investors will be hoping for a decent return—but chances are they will view those returns in much broader terms—including the development of truly clean, renewable energy.
More on Community Renewables and Community Investing
Giving Away Food is Good Business: The Surprising Benefits of Local Investing
Community-Owned Wind Power Combats NIMBYism
Residents Install Solar Power Station on Brewery Roof