It seems almost every other renewable energy project under development in the UK now has some form of community involvement, whether that be a community fund set up by developers or share offers allowing local residents to own their own slice of the clean energy pie. Only today there came news that the UK’s first solar farm funded by council-backed solar bonds has started generating electricity. The 5MW Swindon Community Solar Farm was part funded through £1.8m worth of council solar bonds, alongside £3m of investment from Swindon Borough Council. Some 65 per cent of the farm’s profits will be used to fund local community initiatives, with the remaining 35 per cent going to the council. Community projects are not just growing in importance for the solar industry. Last month we reported on the start of work at Scotland’s first community-led urban hydro scheme, which will channel its profits into a community fund to support local social and environmental initiatives, such as initiatives to improve the local riverside. Meanwhile, some community groups are seeking to take ownership of the energy market, dictating the terms of supply as well as production. For example, in Edinburgh residents may be poised to benefit from cheaper energy bills after a new green energy scheme was today awarded more than £800,000 in funding from the Scottish government. The Tower Power project will use the cash to fund a community project called 20 More, which aims to secure residents of the Dumbidykes housing estate in Edinburgh a better deal on their energy through collective purchasing agreements. All these examples demonstrate the clean energy industry has grasped the importance of winning community buy-in for local renewables projects – a lesson the government didn’t learn quickly enough for onshore wind, according to former Labour leader Ed Miliband. “I feel in retrospect we underestimated the extent to which we needed to get community buy-in around renewable energy, in particular for wind turbines. I wish that earlier on we had done more to give community benefit,” he said at a panel debate in London last week. “I know now of a lot of projects in my constituency where there is community benefit and it totally changes local perception about onshore wind, because it’s providing a new village hall or there’s some other community benefit – you don’t feel that it’s just going to a big multinational. That makes a big difference, and I don’t think we took that aspect of consent seriously enough.”
Business Green 4th July 2016 read more »
A new green energy scheme in Edinburgh will receive £821,200 funding to help bring down energy bills for residents. Residents living in the Dumbiedykes estate will benefit from the ‘Tower Power’ scheme – which is partnered with Community Energy Scotland and community development agency Comas – and aims to secure a better deal for energy users through negotiating collective deals and maximizing local options for power generation. Comas chief executive Ruth Campbell said: “Fuel poverty is a major aspect of the experience of poverty in Scotland. This initiative is a practical solution which, coupled with action on food security and welfare benefits, can change a community for the better, financially and environmentally.” The government’s challenge fund project manager said that community energy “represents tremendous potential to empower people to make the most of their local resources” and hopes that the fund will help tackle “pressing energy issues”.
Utility Week 4th July 2016 read more »
A new community wind turbine project in Grampian has reached financial close – thanks to mostly locally-based subscribers and Local Energy Scotland. Construction will begin this month on installing the 500kW Enercon wind turbine, which will be built on Greenmyres Farm, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire. The project has been developed by the community and supported by Local Energy Scotland, with funding coming from the Scottish Government’s CARES scheme, Clydesdale Bank and Social Investment Scotland. The farm is owned by Huntly Development Trust and its wholly owned subsidiary, Greenmyres Renewables Energy Ltd will own and operate the wind turbine. GRE is planning to do a community share offer to replace some of the bank lending with community investment.
Scottish Energy News 5th July 2016 read more »