Community Energy at a glance
Scottish Community Alliance
When the Scottish Government set a target of 500 mw of electricity from community and locally owned renewable energy, we thought the days of feeding from the crumbs of the developers’ table were over. 500 mw equates to roughly £2.4bn of income. Cue widespread anticipation of exciting times ahead. But storm clouds are gathering. That target of ‘local ownership’ extends to local landowners as well and not surprisingly they are keen to retain control of projects on their land.
Too few communities own their land. Secondly, planners and the planning system in general doesn’t recognise the particular social and economic benefits that flow from community ownership – treating community ownership projects no differently from any other. Thirdly, the regime of financial incentives set by Westminster to encourage the shift to renewables shows little evidence of specific support for community owned renewables.
And potentially the darkest cloud of all, Community Energy Scotland, long term champions of community ownership, has just lost a major government contract to provide vital support to communities. Adding further gloom to this picture, significant community projects have recently fallen by the way side at Roseneath and Dunbar. Worrying times for the future of community renewables.
Despite the somewhat gloomy policy and financial climate surrounding community renewables (see intro), there’s still much to play for. And if communities are going to maximise those opportunities that still do exist, then having good quality reliable data is going to be vital. The recent launch of Scene Connect which is described as the UK’s most comprehensive Community Energy Knowledge Exchange Database has to be welcomed. It’s clever and very user friendly