UK Fosters Community-Owned RE Projects

People living near wind farms and hydroelectric power stations in the United Kingdom could soon be able to buy stakes in renewable energy projects as part of community ownership schemes.

Edward Davey, the Energy Secretary, is supporting the project by the RenewableUK trade association, saying shared ownership would “revolutionise” the move away from fossil fuels.

“By giving communities the opportunity to buy in and benefit from renewable energy developments in their area, they can play their part in generating power at a local level which could supply enough electricity for 1 million homes by 2020,” he added.

RenewableUK has published its proposals for how shared ownership can be introduced through joint venture, split ownership, shared revenue, bonds or debentures in a project.

A spokesperson for the group said developers working on new renewable projects would consult with local people to gain interest before offering varying stakes of between 5 and 25 per cent.The Scout Moor wind farm in the South Pennines (Getty)Supporters believe that increased public involvement could diminish opposition to planning permission and be “mutually beneficial” for developers, energy companies and local people.

The report cited current examples where people have bought stakes in wind farms for just £5, including REG Windpower’s project in Cornwall where people raised £1.5 million for a wind turbine near Liskeard.

Community-owned wind farms are common in Germany and Scandinavia, as well as across Latin America, but the first did not come to the UK until Baywind Energy Co-operative formed in 1996. It has since gone on to raised enough money for six turbines in Cumbria with 1,300 investors.

Rebecca Willis, vice chairperson of RenewableUK, said there was a “substantial appetite” among local communities to invest in renewable energy.

She added, “That’s increasing as people become more aware of the pressing need to do their bit to tackle climate change, and to generate a secure supply of electricity from clean, local sources”.

Credit: Lizzie Dearben, The Independent

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