This fund is no longer open for investment and will close in December 2023.
Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE Partners) is a pioneering £50 million social and environmental impact investment programme funded by Big Society Capital and Power to Change. Designed and managed by Finance Earth, the fund assumes a novel structure with both investment from Power to Change and an aligned grant programme from the Charitable Trust.
CORE invests in and restructures renewable energy projects, facilitating a transition to community ownership. This structure allows for the recycling of revenues and the capture of valuable government subsidies to build capacity within communities. Once assets are acquired, a bespoke investment programme is delivered to improve the solar assets to maximise their profitability for the benefit of the community.
In 2021, CORE successfully raised £31 million in long-term financing from institutional investor Abrdn, representing a first for community energy in the UK. Finance Earth proved the initial hypothesis that institutional debt can be leveraged to support community energy projects.
Maximising the environmental, social, and financial benefits of solar assets for local communities is central to the purpose of CORE. Several of the communities supported by CORE are in the most deprived areas in the country. CORE’s commitment to local communities is built into its structure, supporting local initiatives with the profits generated by its portfolio.
All operating profits generated above those due to lenders are channelled into Community Benefit Funds (CBFs), which are managed by local community organisations to deliver social and environmental benefits locally. To date, CORE has released over £400,000 through CBFs and is projected to deliver over £10 million through CBFs to local community groups over the lifetime of the assets.
Already, the deployment of funds through CBFs has helped to support a range of community led projects, including measures to reduce fuel poverty, and community-led agriculture.
Through the CORE programme, Finance Earth was instrumental to the establishment of Bright Renewables, the first community owned asset management business in 2018. Today, Bright Renewables manages 83MWs of solar assets, representing c. 40% of all UK community solar.
CORE will complete the transition to community ownership this year, through the refinancing of junior debt and a community equity raise. Completing the transition will empower the community groups to manage the assets and ensure they continue to generate vital benefits for local residents.
Through balancing environmental protection with community ownership, CORE is enabling communities to build a more sustainable future at a local level.