Dave Elliott: Some renewables energy systems are well suited to development at the small, local scale, with funding direct from and by the local community. Indeed, local community-owned wind projects initially dominated the expansion of wind energy in Denmark, with, by 2016, 67% of onshore wind energy being generated by citizen-owned projects. Local ownership, initially via wind co-ops/wind guilds, then spread elsewhere in Northern Europe, most notably in Germany, with the PV solar share expanding, and at one stage about half of the 100GW of renewable capacity in place being locally owned via energy co-ops or local farmers. The UK’s situation has been, and is still, very different. It has been much harder to set up voluntary energy co-ops. The small FiT scheme that was eventually established helped a bit, but that has now been abandoned. There has been better progress in Scotland, where more public support was provided. And, as the cost of PV has fallen, more zero subsidy projects are now emerging across the UK, as for example the newly agreed ~40 MW solar farm near Oxford. However, despite the efforts of groups like AAT in Wales, the total locally-owned capacity in UK is still tiny compared with that centrally owned by corporations, and still nowhere near the locally-owned total in Germany. Community Energy England says that in 2018, ‘there were community generation sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland amounting to 168 MW of generation capacity. The majority of this was solar (138.3 MW), while wind (27.4 MW) and hydro (2.2 MW) trailed behind. Adding the 68 MW generated by community energy projects in Scotland, the total capacity by the end of 2018 was 236 MW’. And it’s now building up more, with local action expanding across the UK.
Renew Extra 19th June 2021 read more »