Solar farm acquired by host village, will pump £1M into local projects by 2040

A solar farm in Shropshire is now in community ownership with help from Triodos Bank UK.
The 3.2MW solar farm in Sheriffhales was originally commissioned in 2016 by a commercial renewable energy company. In 2016 it was brought into part-community ownership, first through Mongoose Energy, then in 2018 through short-term investment from a social investment fund.
Now Triodos has provided £3 million of new senior debt which, alongside over £500,000 from a community bond offer, has enabled the repayment of the short-term loan.
Now the solar farm will be owned by Sheriffhales Community Energy, a not-for-profit community benefit society governed by local volunteer directors. The company has been set up to generate income for the parish.
The array is currently generating over £400,000 per year in revenue. With the new finance arrangements, the company expects to generate around £1 million surplus for community projects over the solar farm’s expected operating life to 2040.
The community fund has so far provided over £150,000 of support to local social and environmental projects, including funding food parcels during the Covid-19 pandemic, a subsidised taxi service for eligible village residents, a village hall extension and LED lightbulbs for every household. The funds are distributed by the Sheriffhales and Community Renewable Energy Committee (SaCREC), a registered charity which is tasked to target the solar farm funds where most effective in the parish.
Peter Bonsall, chair and trustee of Sheriffhales Community Energy, said: “We are a rural parish with an agrarian economy – we don’t have a village pub, shop or bus. Bringing the solar farm into community ownership will bring an income to the parish that is more than the parish council precept. We will be using those funds to help address some of the challenges we face as a rural community, to tackle fuel poverty and other urgent village needs.”
The project is managed by Communities for Renewables (CfR) CIC, which provides company and asset management services to local energy enterprises across the country and has a longstanding relationship with Triodos Bank.