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Community energy projects given boost in Energy Bill
Today (3rd July) the Government tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill to double the size of community renewable energy projects able to access Feed-in Tariffs to 10MW.
This means projects between 5MW and 10MW, which captures most larger community owned schemes, will be able to fund their schemes through the simple method of a fixed Feed-in Tariff, rather than participating in the new ‘contracts for difference’ regime, a complex scheme designed for large commercial developers.
The Community Energy Coalition, which includes The Co-operative Group, Co-operatives UK, the National Trust, Church of England, Energy4All, and over 20 other organisations, welcomed the amendment.
Ed Mayo, General Secretary of Co-operatives UK, said: “This is great news for community energy. With this support, we are optimistic that there will be more community-owned schemes of scale in future. We are working closely with government to develop its first Community Energy Strategy, to make sure that communities can invest in renewables, making a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs and reducing carbon emissions.”
Annette Heslop, Director at the community energy organisation Energy4All, said: "This is very welcome news and will provide communities with some of the certainty they require to embark on new renewable energy schemes. We are glad of the support we have received from both Government and the Labour front bench and hope more support will be forthcoming to allow communities to democratically own, control and benefit from projects."
The civil society organisations and community groups had urged the Government to make this change fearing that larger community projects, such as Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative in Oxfordshire and Lochcarran Community Wind Farm in Scotland, would be prevented from ever happening again.
The Community Energy Coalition believes that community ownership of renewable energy projects brings a wealth of benefits beyond helping the UK to meet its climate and energy objectives. It gives control to and keeps the benefit within communities and enjoys greater levels of public support.
Research commissioned by The Co-operative has shown that two out of three people who would oppose wind turbines near their home would change their mind if they belonged to the community.