I’ve been talking to the Department for Energy and Climate Change a lot about community ownership of energy. I make the case that there’s lots of potential for community energy at the mid-scale – from 5MW (that’s two or three large wind turbines) upwards.
This always surprises DECC people. They think community energy is small and cuddly. So with the help of lots of community energy types, I’ve compiled a list of community-owned energy projects of significant scale – at or around 5MW.
Two health warnings: first, it’s really not comprehensive. I just asked around. There’s no official stats on this. Hopefully DECC will do a more systematic analysis as part of their work on the community energy strategy. Second, not all of these schemes will come off. Some won’t get past planning, others won’t get the money together. And whether or not there will be a market for them once the Energy Bill reforms have gone through – well, that’s another story.
Caveats aside, the list shows that there is ambition and appetite for community ownership. A quick tally shows there’s already around 35MW in operation, and a further 170MW being considered. Separate research by Camco and Baker Tilly shows there could be 3.5GW of community-owned renewables, if they have access to finance. Community Energy Scotland thinks this estimate is too low.
We’ll keep talking to DECC about the potential for the community sector. And if you know of any projects not on my list, let me know and I’ll add them.