Four Winds has enabled members of the public to own a stake in their local renewable energy resource and thus benefit from the sale of green electricity, produced when the wind blows.
The Co-operative was set-up in July 2013 to develop suitable sites for wind turbines on land owned by Harworth Estates that has been used for mining in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire.
Two sites at Duckmanton and Shafton had already been granted planning approval and this enabled the co-operative to progress to the next stages at these sites. During the summer of 2014, a share offer raised £3.4m of investment which has been used to build two wind turbines, one near Duckmanton near Chesterfield and one between Grimethorpe and Cudworth called Shafton Turbine.
The co-operative is based on the successful model of Baywind Energy Co-operative www.baywind.co.uk that has operated turbines in Cumbria since the mid-1990s. Under this model the finance for the project was raised through a share offer targeted at the areas local to the turbines but open to all, with possible additional finance through a loan. Now that the first turbine is operational, the electricity is being sold on the energy market and the running expenses of the turbines are paid, together with payment to a community fund. The remaining surplus will be distributed to the members of the co-operative as interest. Baywind energy Co-operative has been issuing interest payments of between 6%-8% each year.
Four Winds Co-operative has been set up by Energy4All (www.energy4all.co.uk) which is a not-for-profit company established to develop and support new co-operatively owned renewable energy projects. There are now ten successful co-ops in the Energy4all “family” with over 13,000 members.
The finance for the development phase has come from Energy Prospects (www.energyprospects.coop) who specialise in providing the funding and expertise to get potential community renewable energy projects through to post-planning approval stage.