ETHICAL INVESTMENT – two words that you might imagine have gone somewhat out of fashion in these financially fatigued days. Not, it appears, when it comes to Northern Ireland, where the opportunity to “earn a return on an ethical investment” has inspired a new wave of investors to take a chance on a pioneering green energy venture.
Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative – which hopes to raise up to £3.4 million to build the North’s first community wind farm co-op – says it has been pleasantly surprised by the response to its public share offering.
The Drumlin Wind Energy Co-op launched its offering in Belfast in June and it has attracted more than £562,755 of investment so far – which its directors say has “exceeded expectations”.
The co-op wants to build and operate five 250kW single wind turbines in locations including Pomeroy, Kells, Larne and Ballyclare.
Drumlin Wind was set up by Energy4All – a not-for-profit organisation in the UK owned by the community co-operatives it creates.
Energy4All emerged in the mid-1980s following the arrival in the UK of a Swedish company that successfully exported the Swedish concept of community ownership of wind farms. This led to the creation of the UK’s first community wind farm co-op – Baywind in Cumbria – which now has more than 1,300 members and is proud to boast “profits”.
Baywind created Energy4All to help other UK communities create locally owned wind farm ventures; today it administers a total of seven additional co-ops which have attracted more than £15 million of investment.
Drumlin Wind, which has a board of local directors, needs to raise minimum capital of £1.5 million to enable it to install two wind turbines in the North. If it fails to raise the minimum amount, everyone who has invested to date will get their money back.
The share offer is open until September and, although the co-op is still some way off its target, it has enjoyed a promising start.
So why has a green energy project proved to be such an investment hit in the North?
Andrew McMurray, a director of Drumlin Wind, believes it might have something to do with the fact that it is the “first of its kind across the island of Ireland”.