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Online community energy stockmarket starts trading


Tony Quested

An online stockmarket dealing in community energy shares has gone live and starts trading on Saturday from its Cambridge UK mother ship.


The first Microgenius issue soft-launches on September 15 a community share offer for Sheffield Renewables to fund its Jordan Dam hydroelectric project. Microgenius founder and eco-entrepreneur Emily Mackay believes the clean technology issue will be the first of many as her crowdfunding business delivers power to the people. Anglia Ruskin’s Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR) awarded Mackay 10,000 in December as part of part of its Enterprise Fellowship Scheme and has also provided her with ongoing mentoring support via former Business Weekly chairman, Walter Herriot. And Microgenius was a runner-up recently in the inaugural KickStart competition run by Business Weekly spin-out The venture aims to making buying and selling shares in community energy projects easier both for individuals who want to invest in renewable energy and for the projects which are often run by volunteers. Mackays interest in community-generated energy started when she was told she couldnt put solar panels on her own roof. She set out to invest in a community energy microgeneration project instead. Her enthusiasm grew as she saw the potential for a new service that would help others do the same and Microgenius was born. Microgenius is a national not-for-profit website that links people with an interest in sustainable energy with communities that are developing micro-generation projects. It simplifies the process of finding and purchasing community shares in renewable energy projects. Mackay said: When I was looking to invest in renewable energy I found it really difficult to find the community projects. It was so frustrating! I eventually found and talked to some co-operatives and community benefit societies and I realised then how burdensome they find attracting investors and the administration that comes with it. Microgenius is designed to simplify the process for both projects and investors. It is a web-based platform that has been specially developed to manage the administration of fundraising and also to make it possible to reach a much wider range of people with the share offer. The initiative has received an enthusiastic response from key players in the industry including ethical energy provider Co-operative Energy, Co-operatives UK and renewable electricity supplier, Good Energy. Nigel Mason from Co-operative Energy says: Were committed to playing our part in tackling climate change and sourcing energy from renewable sources to provide our customers with clean, cost-effective energy. We were keen to lend our support to Microgenius as this will make it easier for individuals to support community-level green energy schemes. Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK, adds that co-operatives and community benefit societies (Industrial & Provident Societies) are prospering. He said: For the past four years, the co-operative sector has outperformed the UK economy, demonstrating resilience in difficult economic times and proving that values and principles go hand in hand with commercial performance. More than 5,900 co-operative businesses in the UK contribute 35.6bn to the UK economy and operate across all business sectors. And Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder, Good Energy, added: At Good Energy we know how valuable communities are in changing the way we make and use energy. By producing their own electricity from local, natural resources, communities can take control of their energy needs and help the UK towards a 100 per cent renewable future. An estimated 25 million has been invested in community shares in renewable energy and much more is anticipated. Shareholders become members of the society and everyone gets an equal vote in how it is run. They receive a social, environmental and financial return on their investment. There are at least 59 energy co-operatives already registered across the UK according to the Community Shares Action Learning Research Project, and some are already generating energy using wind, hydro and solar power. Many more projects are planned. PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Emily Mackay

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Online community energy stockmarket starts trading