Scottish communities are missing out on the full benefits that renewable energy has to offer, a report out next week will show.
The report by the Sustainable Community Energy Network (SCENE) with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation shows that about 180MW of community-owned renewable energy remains within the planning system, enough electricity to power Aberdeen, while just 20MW are operational – not even enough to power Musselburgh.
The report will warn that the future of Scotland’s world-class renewable resources can go one of two ways:
On the one hand, Scottish communities and businesses receive the support they need to work together to bring about a renewable energy revolution that sees benefits flowing to both.
The alternative; Scottish communities and businesses continue to lose out as profits keep flowing into only a handful of pockets - many of them overseas companies - while opposition to renewable development continues to grow at home.
Director of SCENE Jelte Harnmeijer, said: “Scotland has the potential for a renewables revolution, similar to that seen in Germany and Denmark, in the production of energy. However, without Scottish communities on board, it’s unlikely to happen.”
Communities in Denmark and Germany own about 86% and 50% of their renewable energy generation. In Scotland, which has better renewable resources, that figure is just over 3%.
Along with the obvious environmental benefits, community-owned renewable energy projects overcome social barriers, make local energy supply more reliable, drive local employment and strengthen community engagement.
Ownership of community energy is also financially rewarding. Fintry, a small village in Stirlingshire, is set to earn £400k annually from a single turbine. The report shows that more than 60% of community energy projects were motivated by financial reasons before environmental concerns.