Co-operatively-owned energy generation is a vibrant and growing sector in the UK. The first co‑operatively-owned wind turbines, Baywind in Cumbria, started turning in 1997. Since then, over 7,000 individual investors have ploughed over £16 million into community-owned renewable energy.
But it’s far from easy to make an energy co-op happen, and they are still the exception, not the rule. The market for large-scale, commercial renewables is well established. At the other end of the scale, it is now relatively easy for individuals with a bit of money saved to invest in energy generation, thanks to the feed-in tariff. But the community level is still problematic. Communities face tricky legal and financial hurdles, as well as the challenges of working together as a group of people, often volunteers.
For this work, commissioned by Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group, we visited to five co-operatively owned energy projects during the summer of 2011, and talked to lots more co-operatives and energy experts about how this sector could be further developed and supported. This report offers insights from the process; in October 2012 we will be publishing a set of policy recommendations to government, based on our findings.
Download a copy of the report: