CORE – Community owned renewable energy

Putting renewable energy into community hands to help make places better for people, whilst accelerating the transition to net zero.

The challenge

The transition to net zero by 2050 will require investment in the region of £1.4 trillion in the UK, alongside widespread engagement across our society. This will depend on communities being active and willing participants in the transition and sharing the benefits of a more sustainable economy. Community energy, where solar and wind farms are put into community ownership, offers a valuable way to build community resilience, empower local people to take climate action, and accelerate progress to net zero emissions.

Approach

CORE Partners (“CORE”) is a partnership between Power to Change and Big Society Capital which originally invested in eight solar farms with a combined capacity of c. 40MW. Since 2017, the partners worked with six community partners to transfer the solar assets into community ownership. One of these partners took full ownership in 2021. In December 2023 CORE completed its mission, with five community business successfully raising community shares on Ethex, alongside a new junior loan from Big Society Capital and Power to purchase all remaining solar farms from CORE. These solar farms are expected to generate stable, long-term revenues for communities that can be reinvested in new projects, and used to tackle local issues, including funding for fuel poverty and financial inclusion schemes.

The fund

The fund was originally set up in 2017 as a three-year investment with an option to extend it by a further two years. In 2021 CORE successfully raised the first ever institutional investment in community energy in the UK, welcoming Abrdn as a senior lender to the portfolio. As of December 2023, Big Society Capital’s £6.6 million equity investment has been replaced by a flexible 5-year junior loan, which is expected to generate faster repayments and ultimately enable community ownership of assets.

  • Fund size

    £50 million
  • Big Society Capital commitment

    £6.6 million

Key information

  • Geography

    UK wide
  • Investment type

    Enterprise debt
  • Fund manager

    Finance Earth
  • Investment status

    Past
  • Investment date

    2017