The wind represents an inexhaustible supply of ‘free’ energy and nobody actually owns the wind. Whoever owns the wind turbines receives the benefits from the sale of electricity that is produced. Community ownership of wind turbines helps to maximise the regional economic benefits from the harnessing of an endless natural resource. Owning shares in a wind energy project can also improve peoples’ understanding and appreciation of energy production in general.
The UK government has set a target to generate 10% of our electricity from renewables by 2010. Community owned wind power generation has a significant part to play in meeting these targets and Skye, Boyndie, Westmill, Great Glen, Kilbraur, Fenland Green and Baywind are at the forefront of this campaign.
Local and community ownership of wind projects, ranging from 100% ownership of small projects to minor participation in larger schemes can bring significant benefits to the local community and economy. Throughout Denmark and Germany renewable energy co-operatives are the dominant form of ownership however there are very few such schemes in the UK where large commercial developers dominate.
Energy4All is the leading organisation in supporting community-owned renewable energy schemes. Energy4All works with landowners, communities and developers to increase the social, economic and environmental benefits of low carbon initiatives.
The major barriers to community involvement can be summed up under four categories:
Access to information: Communities are often unaware that they can become involved in RE projects, and of the ways of doing so.
Access to knowledge: This refers to the ‘how’ of the project. The community may need specialist skills to develop a project and costs may be beyond the reaches of the community.
Access to finance: Securing finance can be difficult without a track record and the trading of shares is closely regulated.
Access to markets: Lack of long-term contracts with a guaranteed purchase price can be a real threat to the development of local and community schemes.
If you are interested in exploring opportunities for community ownership please contact us and we look forward to hearing from you.