ResPublica’s Green Paper

ResPublica’s latest Green Paper (http://www.respublica.org.uk/item/The-Community-Renewables-Economy-Starting-up-scaling-up-and-spinning-out-zlbz) is one of a series of ‘short provocative pieces’ aimed at ‘sparking debate’. It has been published in advance of the forthcoming government policy paper on community renewables, and argues an interesting case for joint ventures as a basis for growth in UK community energy.
There are one or two unfortunate factual errors such as describing Baywind as a project without any equity in its project, and stating (in the source data from Scene Connect) that Westmill wind farm is owned by its charitable arm WESET. In each case a co-operative (which is part of the Energy4All ‘family’ of co-ops) holds 100% ownership of these two iconic projects.
However ResPublica makes some very useful points that are in line with Energy4All’s own recent response to the DECC (Dept of Energy & Climate Change) consultation…..
The huge potential of community energy is noted, with the suggestion that a target of 20% of UK renewables in community ownership by 2020, is achievable. The necessity of engaging communities if the UK is to meet its international obligations, the virtuous circle of reinvestment that often accompanies community schemes, and the social benefits, are also stressed.
ResPublica notes the huge frustration of community groups at the barriers they face in delivering community renewables projects. Two prime villains are singled out: ‘overbearing planning restrictions’ and ‘a dearth of external private finance’. Other barriers are also identified such as a lack of guidance, information and expertise in community groups. Energy4All would not disagree with any of these findings, which are familiar ground for anyone involved in the sector and affect any community project that raises its sights above the level of small PV installations. Progress on any of these would be most welcome, particularly the Planning issue and the perennial shortage of both Risk and Investment capital. Based on this analysis, ResPublica then makes its key Recommendation for the greater use of Joint Ownership models.

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