Investing your money in renewables could help bring down energy

Wind turbine energy generaters on wind farm, with solar panels underneath. Your pension could be making a difference (Picture: Getty Images/Mint Images RF)

With the UK experiencing the hottest day on record this summer, the realities of rising global temperatures caused by the climate crisis are being brought into sharp focus right now.

When temperatures are in the 30s, as they were last month, it can be hard to imagine ever needing to turn the central heating back on. However, many of us are already feeling the increased cost of living, and astemperatures start to drop as we come into autumn, sky-high energy bills will hit many homes hard.

In the midst of an energy crisis, it’s especially important that we back renewables, rather than falling back on fossil fuels.

At a critical time for UK energy policy, renewables are a key solution to the gas price crisis, and an area that needs focussed and rapid investment.

Renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar are not only sustainable, but are accessible, affordable, and reliable – helping to improve the UK’s energy security and reduce dependence on fossil fuel providers: ultimately helping to bring energy prices down.

Investing in domestic renewables can even help revitalise the economy by creating green jobs.

Not only can investing in clean energy projects help create a more just energy system, but it can also generate a fair financial return.

For those of us looking to use our money wisely to generate long-term returns, renewables can offer a way of doing so, while also looking out for the future of the planet.

Scenic View Of Dam Investment in renewable UK energy projects means more jobs and less reliance on overseas fossil fuels (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm) UK Domestic Smart Meter display More renewable energy sources could help lower gas and electricity prices (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

One way to consider supporting renewables is simply through your everyday banking or savings. It can be hard to discover how banks are using your money, as many aren’t transparent about where they lend to or finance.

However, it’s always worth checking your current bank’s website to find out how much support they’ve been giving to green energy generation. If you’re not happy with what they’re currently doing, then you can put on the pressure by writing to them, or switching away to a bank that better matches your vision of the future.

It’s always worth checking external sources, too. The team at Clean Energy Pipeline produce annual rankings of banks that are funding the most renewable energy projects, while consumer-friendly Bank.Green and Switch It will show you the flip side, sharing which banks are still funding fossil fuels.

And for those with money that they’re happy to put away for the longer term, investment crowdfunding can offer an accessible and exciting opportunity to invest in a way that helps them see exactly where their money is going.

Crowdfunding offers an alternative that some investors prefer, allowing them to pick and choose the specific organisations they invest in – thereby being closer to
how their money is being used.

By giving investors a direct link to a pioneering company in the renewable energy sector, investors can closely follow the progress of that organisation, and clearly
see the positive impact that their investment is making.

Solar power stations in plain areas, wind turbines in the distance. Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, China. Renewable energy sources include wind and solar power (Picture: Getty Images) Love Actually director Richard Curtis is co-founder of the Make My Money Matter campaign (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

While all investments will have risks, by handpicking the companies you crowdfund, you can do individual research and choose the organisations you trust, in areas you expect to grow – such as wind power or solar energy.

What’s more, one of the key advantages of crowdfunding is that it allows people to start investing with smaller sums, even from £50 – enabling a wider pool of people to be involved – although it is important to remember that any capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed.

At Triodos, we see strong support from our investors for community energy projects, such as our recent community renewable energy bond offer for Empower Community Foundation.

Empower is a charity that owns two solar parks, one near Salisbury, England, and one near Arbroath, Scotland, which have been generating electricity from more than 38,0000 solar panels to power the equivalent of approximately 2,600 homes a year.

The organisation – like many community-owned renewable energy projects – distributes surplus income generated in the projects back to local communities through grant programmes.

This has recently included funding Covid-19 support and family resilience projects.

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We’re also working with Thrive Renewables, which has been funding clean energy projects since 1994 and currently has a portfolio of onshore wind, solar, hydro and battery storage sites across the country.

Recently, Thrive helped to fund the construction of a new community-owned wind turbine near Lawrence Weston, Bristol, which will be the largest in England.

We have launched a £5million crowdfunding share offer to help Thrive build new renewable energy generation and storage across the UK.

And investing doesn’t need to stop there. The UK’s collective pension pots add up to trillions of pounds, so it’s a great place to channel support into a greener future – the kind of world we want to see when we retire.

Make My Money Matter – co-founded by movie director Richard Curtis – has led a fantastic campaign, asking us all to challenge our pension providers on where they’re investing. So it’s worth considering if the money in your pension could be better supporting renewables, too.

While the climate emergency and energy crisis may feel too huge for any one of us to remedy, by working together we can invest in building new projects that deliver tangible change to the UK’s energy landscape – ultimately driving forward a fairer and more sustainable future for all.

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