Why I want the people of Wales to own their clean energy future
Sarah Merrick, Chief Executive of Ripple Energy
Graig Fatha to the north west of Cardiff will soon become the UK’s first-ever consumer owned wind farm. It will be owned by the people it supplies.
I want Graig Fatha to be the first of a new generation of democratically owned green energy assets.
People want to act on climate change. Not just hollow actions, but real tangible actions that genuinely make a difference.
Onshore wind is now the UK’s cheapest and cleanest sources of electricity. It makes sense for people to own it and get direct access to the cheapest and cleanest electricity available.
From Extinction Rebellion, declarations of climate emergencies and Greta Thunberg to the David Attenborough documentary, 2019 was dominated by calls for climate action. The world’s attention in the first half of 2020 has, quite understandably, been focused on coronavirus and its human and economic impact.
There are, however, growing calls to ‘build back better’ after coronavirus. I firmly believe the only sensible recovery is a low carbon one.
The shift to a low carbon energy system, powered primarily by renewables means new ways of doing things are suddenly possible.
It’s not possible for people to own a bit of a coal-fired power station to supply their home’s electricity, or a nuclear or gas station for that matter.
But large scale wind and solar are different. People can own bits of them themselves. And it’s pretty easy too. You know how much they cost to build before they’re built. There are no cost overruns like nuclear. And once they’re built they are very cheap to run. You don’t need to worry about the price of gas or coal.
You know pretty well how much electricity the wind farm will produce and how much it’ll cost to do so. For 25 years. No wonder pension funds love to own them.
I’ve worked in the wind sector for 20 years. Wind, like all large scale energy assets is, or at least has been, a big boys game. Big companies, owning big assets. That can, and should, change.
I set up Ripple, the UK’s first clean energy ownership platform in 2017. My mission is to make clean energy ownership affordable and accessible for everyone, everywhere.
Ripple enables everyone to own their own source of clean, green electricity. Consumers have for too long sat at the very end of the energy value chain, picking up the tab after various companies have extracted their profit along the way.
We want to put people in control of the whole value chain. Right from the generation asset to flicking on the light switch in their home
By owning part of a wind farm or solar park, people can lock in low and stable electricity costs for the long term.
Ripple is built on people power. As a company, we are proud to be crowdfunded. We have over 1000 individual investors. No big venture capital funds, but rather people, wanting to create a new way of doing things.
We want to effectively crowdfund the nation’s energy assets. We want wind farms and solar parks to be owned by co-operatives. By people. After all, its people that need their power. It’s people that want to see a clean energy future. Let’s empower people to create the future they want to see.
Until now if individual households wanted to own their own source of clean power, their only option was to put solar panels on their house. Great if you have £4000-8000 and own a house with a lovely south-west facing roof. What about people who don’t own their home, or live in a flat? Or aren’t yet living in your forever home?
We want everyone to be able to own their own source of clean power.
Owning a tiny part of a large scale wind farm means people can benefit from economies of scale. The upfront cost is around 65% cheaper than rooftop solar.
Instead of 2000 people spending £5000 each to put solar on their roofs, why not enable people club together and each spend less than £2000 on a wind farm to generate the same amount of power?
Ripple provides a platform for people to come together to just that.
The future has to be zero-carbon. There is no question about that. Let’s use this incredible transition to create a better deal for people everywhere.
Let’s enable people to join forces and build a better, cleaner future. Together.
Graig Fatha is the first step in an incredible journey to transform energy ownership.
By people, for people.
Editor’s note: Ripple has advertised on Nation.Cymru. However, this article was selected for publication on its own merits and was not part of any advertising agreement.