Belgian citizens can now invest in offshore wind turbines
Nuhma, since long owned by a number of Limburg municipalities, now wants to open its capital to citizens. “We want to directly implicate them in the energy transition and propose an interesting investment with dividend”, says CEO Ludo Kelchtermans.
This initiative will materialize in a new co-operative, called ECO2050, which will invest in offshore wind turbine parks C-Power, Rentel, and future project Seamade. The co-operative shares are on sale for 50 euro.
A number of co-operative companies investing in local sustainable energy production already exist. Think of Ecopower, Aspiravi Samen, Eoly and Electrabel CoGreen. Most of them invest in wind turbines on land. ECO2050 is the first to propose the possibility to invest in offshore wind turbines.
ECO2050 will not have direct participation in the offshore parks. It will loan its capital in Z-Krach, the offshore division of Nuhma. The interest on this loan is variable. During the more risky building phase, ECO2050 sill get a 6% interest. When the project is completed, the interest will be between 4 and 6 %. During high production years, ECO2050’s dividend will be higher.
This first project is only the beginning. The long-term objective, however, is to open up a part of the municipality-owned capital for the citizens. They will be able to buy 20% of Nuhma capital, which corresponds to 80 million euro.
“We think it is interesting that citizens can invest in a diversified portfolio of energy projects ranging from wind turbine parks, biomass and solar electricity production to distribution grid management companies Elia and FLuxys”, says Kelchtermans.
But patience for the long-term vision is however due. “The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) control body interprets investment fund rules rigorously. That’s why we have a very strict ruling, with numerous reporting obligations and high costs”, says Kelchtermans.
“If we were to implicate banks to collect the money among citizens, it would cost a lot. In that scenario, the residual yield would be insufficient. But we continue to search for solutions that permit citizens to invest in Nuhma projects.”