BWCE’s new share offer

We will soon be opening a new share offer to enable us to continue raising capital to deliver new community renewables projects, including new community solar PV roofs and our innovative Solar Streets pilot, that includes installation of domestic solar PV and battery systems.

As some of you know from recent discussions, we are not in a position to raise new finance with the same target interest rate as previously, especially in light of the ending of the Feed in Tariff in April 2019 for new projects. So we intend to launch the new share offer with a target interest rate of 4%, potentially rising to 5% as new markets develop over the next few years, and with a minimum purchase of £100.

We will of course continue to honour all past commitments to our existing shareholders with regard to target interest rates. We are bound to meet the terms of all previous share offer documents and neither we, nor any future board can vary these terms in the future.

But we do hope you will be able to support the offer when it opens. We hope you will be able to help us continue to grow and increase our impact. We will be heavily marketing the offer in our area to increase local membership, so please spread the word!

Latest reports about climate change tell us that we need an urgent and rapidly escalating response to carbon reduction. We need to make our voices heard, let our leaders know through positive action that there is real demand for an ambitious response that is proportionate to the threats we face. What better way to do that than by ensuring your positive action supports a local community business committed to delivering community benefit rather than commercial profit.

BWCE Supporters Network

We have now had two meetings of our Supporters Network and at the last meeting we agreed to set up two working groups

  • The Communication, Creative and Outreach group will hold its first meeting on Monday 3rd December (followed by a second on 10th January) to explore how to promote climate conversations and raise the profile of BWCE and sustainable energy activities.
  • The Technology group will hold its first meeting on Thursday 6th December to explore how to increase understanding of the technical challenges and solutions to climate change and how we can develop a community owned clean local energy future.

If you are interested in joining either of these groups or want to know more about the Supporters Network please contact [email protected] or call 07517 100889

Raising Awareness of BWCE and Increasing Impact

Can you help us spread the word?

BWCE is embarking on an ambitious plan to build better awareness of our work across Bath and the surrounding area and to develop the networks and partnerships we need to promote new community energy and low carbon initiatives. At our recent AGM, we managed to gather lots of ideas of who we should be talking to through a community mapping exercise and we now want to build on this.

Central to this venture will be the development of a Supporters Network. This will comprise a network of people interested in helping BWCE promote what it’s doing – from forwarding on emails/social media to creating new connections and having more conversations with more people.

A number of members have already expressed an interest in being more involved in supporting BWCE. We are now inviting members and non-members to join us to explore what we can do together.

Supporters Network meeting
Wednesday 26th September
6.30pm
Bath Royal Literary And Scientific Institute, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN

At the meeting we will:

  • Discuss the Supporters Network – what’s it all about, what are we seeking to achieve?
  • Explore some of the ways you can get involved, from simply sharing our news to a more extensive involvement for those with the time and inclination to do more.
  • Present the community map and plan how to use it and develop it further.
  • Explore what information and support you need to be effective.
  • Decide how we communicate and keep in touch with each other, without burdening you with information and meetings!

Come along even if you just want to find out more. Attending the meeting will not be a commitment to do anything! In order for us to get a sense of numbersit would be great if you could let us know you are planning to attend, please email [email protected].

If you want to discuss the meeting before attending you can call Nick Bird (BWCE Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator) on 07517 100889.

BWCE Members interest payments update 2017

October 2017

At our AGM 2017 6% interest was declared for members’ shares for the year ending 31 March 2017.

All the interest payments due to members are paid by bank transfer unless we don’t have bank details in which case you will receive a cheque. Payments will be made by the beginning of November.

More details about your interest payments and their tax treatment can be found here

If you have any queries about your payment are handled by Neville Registrars please email [email protected] or call 0121 585 1131.

BWCE Fund opens for new applications

PRESS RELEASE  4 October 2017

Nearly £30,000 up for grabs as Bath & West Community Energy Fund opens for applications

Bath & West Community Energy Fund opens for the fourth year running to applications from local organisations that want to shrink their carbon footprint or address the real issues of fuel poverty and climate change.

The fund, nearly £30,000 this year, comes from Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) as part of the work it does in supporting the communities in which it operates.

The fund has in the past awarded 28 grants for a total of £90,988 with money going to schools, community groups and a variety of local environmental organisations. The 2017/18 programme opened 28 September and runs until 17 November. Applications are sought for grants of up to £5,000. Full details of the grants awarded can be found on BWCE’s website

Interested projects need to apply through the Quartet Community Foundation website

Read more…

Interested in Transferring Funds From Your Existing ISA?

BWCE’s Solar Bond is available via the new crowdfunding platform, Mongoose Crowd, and eligible for investment via the Innovative Finance ISA. 

Have you used up your existing ISA allowance for the year or have an ISA that is not performing as you would wish? 

Mongoose Crowd has just launched a new service that will enable you to transfer your existing ISA to the BWCE Solar Bond, held in an Innovative Finance ISA wrapper. Thus retaining the tax free benefits available to holders of ISAs. 

 

Transferring ISAs in this way means that you can transfer cash from your current Cash or Stocks and Shares ISA to an Innovative Finance ISA. If you wish to transfer a Stocks and Shares ISA you will first have to sell any investments you have before the funds can be transferred to Mongoose Crowd.

Please note that the ISA rules set out by HMRC require that you can only pay in to one Cash ISA, one Stocks & Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA in any given tax year. The maximum combined amount you can contribute across all your ISA accounts in 2017-18 is £20,000.

You can transfer as many previous years’ ISAs as you wish, and the amount you transfer doesn’t affect the current ISA allowance of £20,000 in year 2017-18. So, for example, if you choose to transfer £5,000 from an earlier ISA, you can still contribute up to £20,000 into your current 2017-18 IF ISA allowance, meaning you can make a total IF ISA investment of £25,000.

You can choose to transfer some or all of the money held in your other ISA accounts. For example, if your current ISA holds £10,000, then you may choose to only transfer £4,000 to your Innovative Finance ISA.

You will need to register first with the Mongoose Crowd platform to arrange the transfer of your ISA but the process is relatively simple. If you get stuck you can find more information here or get help by calling 0330 223 0062 or emailing Mongoose Crowd.

 

 

Change of Registry Service Provider

Bath and West Community Energy

Change of Registrar

4th July 2017

We have moved the registry service provided to date by the Community Shares Registry Company (CSRC) to Neville registrars Ltd. The registry service is run by a separate organisation that holds details of your shares and bonds with clear data protection safeguards, pays your interest and updates your personal details like your address or email when you change them.

As part of its service contract with BWCE, Mongoose Energy is responsible for overseeing the delivery of BWCE’s registry services.  Mongoose Energy has seen a rapid growth in investor numbers across the community enterprises it supports. This has driven a procurement process that has resulted in the appointment of Neville Registrars as a new service provider. The transfer of data will be managed by Mongoose Energy, reporting to BWCE’s board.

As of 10th July 2017, registry services will be delivered by

Neville Registrars Limited

Tel: 0121 585 1131

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.nevilleregistrars.co.uk

Neville Registrars Limited,
Neville House,
18 Laurel Lane,
Halesowen,
West Midlands,
B63 3DA.

 

Below is a list of dates for your information.  You do not need to do anything during this transfer and new certificates will not be issued as the existing ones will remain valid.

30th June 2017 – Final date of Community Shares Registry Company services

3rd July 2017 to 7th July 2017 – Transfer period

10th July 2017 – First day of Neville Registrars registry service

You will not be able to make updates to your personal information during the transfer period.  Following the transfer all updates and enquiries regarding share and bond holdings should be directed to Neville Registrars.

Please direct any enquiries during the transfer process to [email protected].  We will be in touch in due course with updated contact details for registry updates and enquiries.

This transfer process will not delay the payment of bond interest on the 12th July for those bondholders that invested in the bond offer that closed on July 12th 2016.

Election of Non-Executive Directors

Are you a BWCE member and would you like to get more involved in running your company?

Non-executive directors play a key role in representing member interests on BWCE’s board. They also help to guide the organisation and hold the executive to account. Their term of office is normally three years. This is an important time for BWCE with a new business plan being developed for presentation on 27th September at our AGM.

If you are not sure what will be expected should you be elected as a non-execuctive director, rest assured you will be fully supported by existing elected members, experienced in what’s involved. BWCE’s board is structured with up to 5 non executive directors and 2 executive directors. See here for information about the current board and executive team.

In line with our rules, a number of our non-executive directors must stand down each year. However, retiring directors have the option to stand for re-election alongside other members who may wish to become involved.

This year Jon Bateman is resigning by rotation and will be standing for re-election. Jane Stephenson is moving from being an elected non-executive director to executive chair and so won’t be standing for re-election. As a result, the election this year will be for two directors to take the board back up to its full complement of 5 non-executive directors.

Download these documents for more information and how to apply

If you would like to put your name forward for election to BWCE’s board, download and complete the nomination form here, and return to [email protected] by 28th July.

For more information on what is involved click here to see the BWCE Director Role Brief or you are welcome to come to a meeting to explain the job of non-executive director on 19th July, at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution at 6.30pm. If you want to attend or you have any queries about the post please let us know on [email protected].

Directors of BWCE are responsible for the financial wellbeing of the organisation and its strategic direction. For further information click here to see a fact sheet on director responsibilities produced by Coops UK.

For key dates in the election of non executive directors in the run up to our AGM on the 27th September and the election policy click here.

 

Understanding Lower Project Performance in 2016-17

Headlines

  • Overall our project portfolio performed 5.4% below target in the year April 2016 to March 2017, with the Portworthy project performing 10% below target.
  • Whilst there have been some minor operational performance issues, that are now largely resolved, the most significant reason for the lower performance has been lower than average sunshine levels.
  • Analysis suggests that sunshine levels during the last two years have been significantly below average at all our sites.
  • Evidence suggests that longer term performance should return to predicted levels.

Performance against targets

Our total project portfolio performed 5.4% below target during the financial year to end March 2017 compared to a just below target the previous year (Fig. 1). Fig. 2 breaks down performance for last year by location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you would expect the BWCE Board are concerned about the causes of the underperformance and any long term implications, given the impact underperformance has on BWCE’s income.

Operational performance

We have had some minor inverter and shading issues during the year on our smaller roof projects which have been, or are in the process of being, resolved. These issues have not had a material impact on the overall performance of the portfolio.

The performance of the actual panels at all three larger sites, Wilmington, Crewkerne and Portworthy has been good. The performance ratio, or the efficiency with which the panels are converting solar irradiation into electricity, has been above target for all three projects. So the panels are working well.

A reduction in the efficiency of the solar panels themselves of 0.5% per year has been taken into account within the target figures.

We have had grid outages at both Crewkerne and Portworthy. This is where the network operator shuts down the solar system to allow them to do work on the local grid. At Crewkerne this was for around 2.5 days during the winter months and so didn’t have a material impact. At Portworthy the impact was a bit greater and amounted to nearly 6 days during spring, summer and autumn months. Since December 2015 this has resulted in just under 2% loss in output.

We would expect there to be continuing grid outages but we do not think they will be a major risk to future output.

Solar Irradiance

All project assessments, including the modelling of future generation and income, are based on assessments of solar irradiance which is calculated using PVGIS, a European Commission database. At our larger sites solar irradiance is remotely monitored on a constant basis.

Where data is available, there is a close correlation between lower than average solar irradiance and lower than forecast generation. This demonstrates that irradiation is the dominant factor, rather than technical or operational factors.

However a key question is, do we expect these low levels of sunshine to continue?

Whilst there are no widely available long-term records of solar irradiance for our specific sites, we have been reviewing our performance against publicly available data on sunshine levels, measured in sun hours[1], to get a sense of how abnormal our experience might be.

The data in Fig. 3 below, compares variation in sunshine levels against the 8 year average in Bath and at the Portworthy and Crewkerne sites. This is modelled data, that comes from www.worldweatheronline.com, allowing the comparison of recent sunshine levels with longer term averages to be made.

 

Because the publicly available data is modelled rather than actual observed data we also wanted to check how accurate the modelled data might be compared to the real world. So the graph also provides data recorded at the Meterological Office Station at Yeovilton, which is in the same area as the Crewkerne site.

The actual observed data at Yeovilton shows a strong correlation with the modelled data we are using at Crewkerne. The strong correlation between the observed and modelled data here increases our confidence in the modelled data for our other sites as well.

The long-term data from Yeovilton, illustrated in Fig. 4 below, emphasises the unusual nature of the last couple of years. The data suggests that the last time sunshine levels were as low as this was in the early ‘90s. The long term average from actual observations at Yeovilton, is within a couple of percent of the 8 year average shown in Fig. 2.

The overall trends in the modelled data summarised in Fig. 3 shows a good correlation with our project generation performance over a longer period outlined in Fig. 1.

Overall, this means that the last two years have delivered significantly below average levels of sunshine at all three locations, suggesting that in the long term we should see better performance.

 

[1] Sunshine hours are defined by the met office as the amount of time that direct solar radiation exceeds 120 w/m2. This is not as accurate as measuring actual solar irradiance, which is what we do at our larger sites. Sunshine hours do not take into account indirect solar radiation, of which we get a lot. However, it has not been possible to source historical irradiance data for comparison.

 

Are we doing enough locally to develop renewable electricity?

It’s helpful to take stock every now and then and consider whether we are doing all we can in whatever our chosen walk of life. So as we develope BWCE’s plans for the next few years, it seemed like a good idea to consider what has been achieved locally on renewables and what can we do better?

An analysis of the Ofgem database on installed capacity (with a little help from Joel at Regen) tells us that by 2010 we had around 150kW of renewable electricity in Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) and by 2016 this had grown to over 22MW. More detailed analysis is underway for the areas just over the border in nearby Bradford on Avon and Corsham. But as data is most easily extracted for whole local authority areas, this analysis is just for B&NES at this stage.

The massive drops in 2013 and 2016 show the impact of the significant cuts in the Feed in Tariff by central government. 2015 however was boosted by the installation of two large community owned solar arrays by BWCE and Chelwood Community Energy.

So, in 2010 we had enough renewable electricity generation to provide the equivalent annual electricity demand of around 30 homes. By 2016 that had grown to around 5,300 homes, or 7% of the homes in B&NES. This is no mean feat, particularly considering that around a third of this capacity is community owned – thanks to the efforts of BWCE and our friends at Chelwood Community Energy. With Keynsham Community Energy also up and running and looking for its first sites we know for certain there is a lot of enthusiasm for local action on renewables.

In the last 6 years we have seen community solar on school roofs, large scale solar arrays as well as a beautiful new modern waterwheel – all developed through a strong community model.

Over their project life, these community renewables alone will put millions of pounds back into the local economy and offer tangible examples of what can be done when we act together.

However should you ask the question, ‘is it enough?’ The answer would have to be a definite ‘no!”

If you compare renewable energy in B&NES with what’s been achieved across the UK in terms of onshore renewables, as a proportion of electricity demand, we are only at a third of where we should be. Whilst we have ‘over delivered’ in terms of solar PV. We have not even got onto the scoreboard with wind. The fact is over 99% of capacity in B&NES is solar. There has been barely any new wind generation installed since 2010.

It is vital now, if we want to meet our targets, that we move the dial on wind energy. It’s not as if we don’t have the sites. The renewable energy resource assessment B&NES council carried out in 2010 showed that we have significant potential for medium scale wind energy projects.

We know that central government has made the situation a lot more difficult with tighter planning constraints and cuts in subsidies, yet as BWCE we are still looking for new sites that could garner local support.

Technology costs are falling and we are not that far away from being able to develop subsidy free projects. So we also believe there is still potential for more solar PV, other technologies like anaerobic digestion and heat pumps, as well as exciting new opportunities for innovative technology and energy supply arrangements including storage and peer to peer trading.

We at BWCE we will be continuing our policy of member consultation with a meeting on 22 April at the  Old Mill Hotel – the site of our new, modern waterwheel. At the meeting we will put forward our proposals for the next few years and get members feedback so that together we can continue to make an impact within the rapidly changing local energy market. If you are a member or bondholder and are interested, you are more than welcome to come along. The meeting will start at 2pm and end at 5pm.

You are also welcome to stay on to 6.00pm when we, with some fine guests, will be raising a toast to the waterwheel.

I hope to see you there, but to help us with the  catering, please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing Peter Andrews from our contact page.

Pete Capener
Bath & West Community Energy