Question: How can my business invest in renewable energy without having large amounts of capital?
Andrew McMurray, director of Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative
Answer: By its very nature renewable energy technology is capital intensive and the scale required to make the technology price-competitive, together with the development risk, typically means that bigger companies and sophisticated investors are the ones who get involved.
However there are increasing opportunities for businesses of all sizes to get involved in renewable energy technology, and there are many incentives to do so.
Not only does renewable energy offer the potential for businesses to receive an attractive return on their investment, it also helps companies to promote sustainability and to become more environmentally responsible members of the community.
There are a number of micro-generation systems such as solar panels that businesses can install on their premises from around £10,000, which can offer a reasonable return of around 6-9% depending on various factors.
Also of interest is the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which offers an annual revenue payment relative to the amount of useful heat generated from renewable sources such as biomass or ground source heat.
These tariffs also offer a reasonable return on investment of around 6%, but can require a significant capital outlay.
There is an alternative model which offers an attractive return with much less hassle and risk, which businesses can invest in from as little as £250: this is the co-operative ownership model, where individuals, businesses and organisations effectively club together and build a community renewable energy scheme.
This opportunity is currently available with Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative, Northern Ireland's first community wind co-operative, which offers a way for businesses to become involved in renewable energy in a unique way whilst receiving similarly attractive returns.