Where renewable energy projects are developed and owned by community organisations, all the available profits are retained for investment and distribution within the community. It is this prospect of a high level of independence and reward that has encouraged a number of the country’s most fragile and remote communities to set up and manage their own successful schemes.
With projects under community ownership, the community is using local natural resources, capturing the energy, generating electricity, selling it and creating a sustainable long-term revenue stream. The income comes from selling the electricity plus receiving a financial incentive (ROC and FiT) given for the generation of green electricity. This model has been taken up by communities developing wind and hydro projects, but could be replicated with biomass through heat sales and RHI. Solar Photo Voltaic projects are currently not economical enough to generate income for significant reinvestment in a community.
A reduction in public finance has led to a desire to reduce grant dependence and for communities to be encouraged to generate their own revenue. Yet there are still considerable challenges in remote rural areas, such as population drift, poor employment prospects, lack of affordable homes, and sub-standard housing. Also the opportunity offered by local control is viewed by communities as promoting independence and resilience.
Owning your own renewables project enables the community to retain control and to receive much higher returns per megawatt of installed capacity compared to projects owned by commercial developers.