RenewableUK has welcomed a new report published by the influential think tank ResPublica which says local community groups should be given greater opportunities to get more involved in developing and owning local renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms.
The new study “The Community Renewables Economy” reveals that there’s been a fourteen-fold increase in the total capacity of community-owned renewable energy projects installed over the last ten years – up from just over 4 megawatts in 2003 to nearly 60MW in 2013. The report says this could grow to 550MW by 2020.
One of the most striking findings of this report is that two-thirds of communities reinvest, or intend to reinvest, revenue gained from renewables in further energy generation projects or energy efficiency technology, thus creating a virtuous circle.
But the report warns that there are barriers to the deployment of community energy which need to be addressed. It says community groups need better access to funding, financial know-how and legal expertise. The study states that a more positive attitude from local authorities is needed to encourage communities to get involved. It also says local councils should give community support for projects due weight when making finely-balanced planning decisions. The report highlights the need to provide training to ensure that local authorities have enough knowledge about the vital importance of renewable energy, so that councillors can make fully informed decisions. It also urges local authorities to set a good example by investing council funds in clean energy projects.
The report suggests that a joint ownership approach may be the best way forward, in which communities work with renewable energy developers, and /or local businesses and local authorities towards a common goal. The study proposes a match-making service to put interested community groups in touch with interested developers as a practical example of how this could be achieved.
RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said:
“This report highlights the exciting prospect of communities working more closely with local wind farm developers, local businesses and local authorities in jointly-owned projects. Using this socially and economically-inclusive model, we have an opportunity to redefine the relationship between communities and developers to unlock a significant growth in community energy, particularly in onshore wind. This will enable all of us to reap the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy at a truly local level”.
The report states that wind energy projects account for 80% of the installed capacity of all community-owned (or part-owned) renewable energy projects. Solar PV accounts for 10%, and other technologies including biomass, hydro, ground source heat pumps and anaerobic digestion make up the remaining 10%.
More information on ResPublica can be found here: http://www.respublica.org.uk/
Westmill Wind FarmCo-operative Ltd: http://www.westmill.coop/westmill_home.asp
Westmill Co-op was established in 2004 for the aim of constructing and operating a community-owned wind farm at Westmill Farm in Oxfordshire. It was the first wind farm co-operative in the South of Englandwhichgavelocal people,as a matter of priority, an opportunity to invest in the production of renewable energy.The co-opfinanced the purchase and construction of five wind turbines through a fundraising campaign in which the public were able to buy shares in the project, supplemented by a bank loan. Westmill Co-op has 2,374 members.
The share launch and project developmentwas managedby Energy4Allestablished to provide support to co-operative wind farm projects around the UK.
The 5 turbines (each with an installed capacity of 1.3 megawatts) started commercial generation in February 2008. The 6.5MW scheme produces clean electricity for the equivalent of 2,500 homes, saving carbon emissions of at least 5,000 tonnes ofcarbon dioxidea year.
Fintry Development Trust: http://www.fintrydt.org.uk/
Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise (FREE). was set-up in 2003 with the aim of making the village of Fintry in Stirlingshire a carbon-neutral sustainable community. FREE engaged with the developers of a local wind farm that was being planned nearby, suggesting that a community-owned wind turbine could provide funding for energy-reduction measures within the village. In 2006, an agreement was signed by FREE and the wind farm developers Falck Renewables, adding one community-funded turbine to the 14-turbine development already planned. As a result, Fintry Development Trust was set up in 2007. A year later, the trust received its first income from the operation of the 2.5MW turbine, and started its first project – providing free insulation to all households in the area that could benefit.
See also: http://www.dtascot.org.uk/content/what-is-a-development-trust/case-studies/fintry-development-trust
RenewableUK is the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy. Formed in 1978, we have an established, large corporate membership ranging from small independent companies, to large international corporations and manufacturers. Acting as a central point of information and a united, representative voice for our membership, we conduct research; find solutions; organise events, facilitate business development, and promote wind and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. Our vision is for renewable energy to play a leading role in powering the UK.
For more information on: RenewableUK