Ripple Energy launches crowdfunding drive for ‘unique’ wind farm ownership model

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Ripple Energy hopes to complete its pilot wind farm later this year

UK start-up hopes to build first two onshore wind farms over the next two years from which its customers can directly source renewable electricity

Ripple Energy has today launched a crowdfunding drive to help enable its first wind farm this year, as it seeks to scale up its vision of allowing customers to become both co-owners and direct energy users of onshore wind projects across the UK.

The start-up is seeking to raise at least £750,000 in exchange for 23.21 per cent of the company through a Seedrs online crowdfunding campaign, which is open to anyone wishing to invest anything between £10 and £1m.

Investment raised will be used to hire more staff at the company and complete development of its business model, which is designed to enable people to become co-owners of new onshore wind farms, from which they can then directly source cheaper, clean electricity via dedicated energy tariffs.

Funding raised through the crowdfunding campaign will also help market Ripple Energy’s first pilot wind project later in 2019 with the capacity to supply around 800 households, followed by a full-scale wind farm in early 2020 to supply more than 18,000 households, it said.

As it grows its customer base, the company eventually hopes to build a series of wind farms across the next five years. It added that 500 people have so far pre-registered to be among its first customers.

Sarah Merrick, founder and CEO of Ripple Energy, said her vision was a clean energy future owned by people rather than companies.

“In the future, customers won’t need utilities to own wind farms and solar parks on their behalf – with Ripple’s help they will be able to do it themselves,” she said. “Investors in Ripple can help make that vision a reality. They will have the opportunity to join a highly scalable and potentially transformative company right at the start.”

While many energy firms offer 100 per cent renewable electricity tariffs, not all of these companies directly invest in new wind, solar or other clean power installations, instead indirectly sourcing green electricity, sometimes through green power certificates.

But Ripple Energy estimates customers could save around £85-175 on their annual electricity bill over a 25 year period by becoming co-owners of onshore wind farms, adding that savings could also increase as the market power price rises.

It argues investing in onshore wind is cheaper for households than rooftop solar, estimating that co-owning a wind farm through Ripple could cost £1,300, while buying enough solar panels to meet an average home’s electricity demand can cost up to £5,500.

Moreover, Ripple customers can reduce their carbon footprint by around 950kg of CO2 each year, the equivalent impact of someone following a vegan diet for a year or reducing their car use by more than 70 per cent, the company claims.

The concept works along similar lines to corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs), which typically see major companies pay energy developers to build renewable energy installations, from which the corporate then directly sources energy at a fixed price once it is built.

Ripple Energy said its business plan was to secure consented wind farms, establish ownership Community Benefit Societies, manage the construction and operations of the projects, and partner with existing licensed green energy suppliers to supply the electricity to co-owners’ homes via unique tariffs.

“Large companies like Google and IKEA have been buying low cost renewable electricity direct for years,” explained Merrick, who previously worked at RenewableUK, Vestas, and Renewable Energy Systems before setting up Ripple Energy. “I want ordinary people to be able to benefit too, which is why I set up Ripple.”

sarah merrick ripple energy onshore wind farmSarah Merrick, founder and CEO of Ripple Energy