Solar investors urged to move quickly to secure EIS tax relief

 The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative is encouraging investors to move quickly as the UK government has just announced plans to remove community energy projects from its Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows investors to claim income tax relief of 30 per cent on their investment.

The innovative co-operative was launched last month (September 29) and has already raised more than £100,000. The scheme aims to raise £1.4 million to install solar panels on 25 public buildings across the capital.

If fully subscribed, the scheme will offer a five per cent return to investors, plus RPI, and in common with many other community share offers the scheme qualifies for the UK Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme – delivering a potential return of around seven per cent, depending on an individual investor’s circumstances.

However this investment incentive is set to close. The Finance Bill currently being considered in the UK Parliament proposes to close the scheme to new applicants after November 30.

Commenting on the move, Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative Chair Richard Dixon said:

“Investing in the Edinburgh solar co-op is a tremendous way for people across the UK to make a difference to the way in which energy is generated and used in the capital, and we are encouraging investors to commit now before the EIS window is closed.

“Anyone in the UK can buy shares and become a member of the co-operative. There are 1.4 million shares at £1 each, and the minimum anyone can buy is 250 shares (£250 pounds).

“If we look across the country, we can see that investing in community co-operatives has proved very popular, with individuals or households typically buying around four thousand shares or more.

“In Scotland the Spirit of Lanarkshire Co-op raised £2.7 million to invest in part of a larger wind farm in South Lanarkshire whilst the West Solent Solar Co-op raised £2.2 million to build a solar farm on a greenfield site near Lymington in Hampshire.

‘In each offer, the primary purpose is to create a local community benefit. In Edinburgh, any surplus profit the co-op generates from the scheme will go towards a Community Benefit Fund which will support new low carbon projects across the city.

“If the share offer is oversubscribed, first preference for shares will go to people within the City of Edinburgh Council area. Each member has one vote regardless of the number of shares held, whether it is 250 or, say, 5000.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in investing in the solar co-op to visit our web site and download the share offer document. Time is certainly of the essence,” Dixon concludes.