Yesterday the UK’s renewable energy industry launched a Shared Ownership Taskforce to allow local communities to invest in local renewable energy projects, like onshore wind farms. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey has backed this scheme.
He said, “Community energy is revolutionising renewable energy development in the UK… By giving communities the opportunity to buy in and benefit from renewable energy developments in their area, they can play a part in generating power at a local level which could supply enough electricity for 1 million homes in 2020.”
Encouraging local communities to take ownership of their renewable energy systems seems essential if we’re to hit our 80% carbon reduction target by 2050. Earlier this year the Government launched a Community Energy Strategy, aiming to help local communities to introduce and manage their energy generation systems.
This could include the community purchasing energy collectively or introducing solar panels or turbines. Handing the power back to the people offers a chance to tackle the monopoly on energy from the big energy companies. Gas prices have hit a record low, leading many to question why energy prices haven’t dropped.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said, “The Community Energy Strategy marks a change in the way we approach powering our homes and businesses – bringing communities together and helping them save money – and make money too. We want to help more consumers of energy to become producers of energy and in doing so help to break the grip of the dominant big energy companies.”
Small Cheshire village Ashton Hayes is aiming to becoming England’s first carbon neutral community. Since 2006 they have cut their emissions by 23% and are planning a community owned renewable energy power station. This is a great example of a community pulling together to introduce environmental change. Through sharing energy ideas and installing simple energy efficiency measures the community saved an average of £300 per household.
This goes to show just how much can be achieved when local communities are encouraged to take long term responsibility for their environment. I welcome ventures like this and would like to see them set up all around the UK.
As part of the build up to next years’ General Election we will be interviewing MP’s across the UK about topics like these. They will be broadcast on Local Community Television. Please do get in touch with us if you have things that you would like us to focus on.
Written by Martin Stocks | @Stocks1986