Investment that's blowing in the wind

Investing in wind farms is more than hot air. It's a chance to use your cash to make a difference, while hopefully making a profit. But it's an investment where returns are at risk, not least from the vagaries of British weather. If the wind doesn't blow hard enough, the wind farm can't generate alternative energy or profits.

The latest project from the green investment company Triodos Renewables has been to install a wind farm on the Africa Alive! wildlife park in Kessingland in Suffolk. The 78.5m tall turbine sits on land owned by the wildlife park and is part of Triodos Renewables' two-turbine Kessingland wind farm.

The two turbines have been connected to the local electricity grid and when fully operational will produce 4.1MW of green electricity, enough to power the nearby village of Pakefield, which has a population of nearly 7,000. The power generated will be sold to the National Grid under the Government's feed-in tariff scheme, with the wildlife park sharing in the profits.

"Our share will go a good way towards reducing the costs our welfare and conservation work sustains," says Martin Goymour, director of Africa Alive!

"To know that a full flow of electricity from the turbines is now going through is great," he said. "Our visitors find them fascinating."

The wind farm is the sixth in Triodos Renewables' portfolio, which also includes an investment in Marine Current Turbines – a tidal generation technology developer – and a hydroelectric project in Argyllshire. The company's turbines' combined capacity will increase renewable electricity generation capacity to the equivalent to the energy required to power some 24,500 homes.

The company, which is managed by the ethical bank Triodos, claims to be Britain's most widely owned green energy company, with 4,000 individual backers. It has been going for 15 years, and now hopes that a £15m public share issue will attract new money to invest in renewable energy projects in the UK.

The company is placing up to 8,333,400 shares at £1.80 per ordinary share, with a minimum investment of £540.

James Vaccaro, managing director, says: "We aim to use all of the money to build new sources of renewable power in the UK. The funds raised will be put to work very quickly building new projects, and we are targeting 9 per cent to 10 per cent annualised rate of return on investment to our shareholders over the long term."

If you are interested, the deadline to apply for shares is 30 August.

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