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UK wind ownership platform Ripple Energy seeks start-up funds

London — A platform through which householders can club together and co-own UK wind farms is seeking GBP750,000 ($984,000) of crowdfunding, company founder Sarah Merrick told S&P Global Platts Monday.

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Ripple Energy is raising for funds in return for a 23.21% stake in the platform, which is to offer shares in wind farms for as little as GBP1,300, compared to the GBP5,500 cost of solar panels for a typical home's electricity demand.

"We estimate customers could save between GBP85 and GBP175 a year on their bills throughout a wind farm's 25-year lifespan," Merrick said.

Ripple is to source consented wind farms of 20 MW and above, and market the assets to individuals via a website. With sufficient capital raised to cover 100% equity without any additional financing, it would then contract out the construction and operation of the wind farm, and partnering with existing suppliers to offer tariffs "that reflect the savings you get by owning the source of electricity," Merrick said.

"You pay up front for the capex but thereafter your energy price reflects the low, stable operating cost of the wind farm, instead of the volatile wholesale electricity price," she said.

Wholesale energy accounts for around 40% of the average UK domestic power bill. All the other components in the bill (network costs, taxes) would be the same.

Ripple would seek to use suppliers' standard power purchase agreements where possible, guaranteeing, for instance, firm supply. Similarly, customers would be offered a recognizable suite of tariffs, albeit with the energy component saving.

"The aim is to enable individual consumers to access the huge economies of scale you get from the UK's cheapest source of electricity -- large-scale wind of 20 MW-plus," Merrick said.

Ripple is pitching its idea as a new route to market for wind farms in a subsidy-free world, overcoming some of the issues that corporate power purchase agreements face.

"Counterparty risk and long-term offtake risk are removed with this model, where each customer essentially underwrites their own long-term demand risk," she said.

The crowdfunding would support platform development and launch a small pilot project of one turbine, about three months from close of the offer.

Ripple aims to have 700,000 customers by 2024 with 22 wind farms launched across four countries, Merrick said.

-- Henry Edwardes-Evans, henry.edwardes-evans@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com