First Minister Alex Salmond has announced a £20m Challenge Fund for local energy projects for 2015. The fund will offer grant and loan funding from April 2015 for major demonstrator projects providing transformative innovative local energy solutions.
The Local Energy Challenge Fund will run for one year, and will be followed by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, (LCITP). The LCITP will support the changes we need to make sure Scotland adapts to maximise the benefits available from Scotland’s own renewable energy resources and its people.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has issued a ‘Community Energy Policy Statement’ in draft form, for public consultation. The Policy Statement is open for public comment until 10 November 2014. The document envisages more partnerships, with local authorities, communities, businesses and householders all working together to get rewards for all.
In his Ministerial Foreword, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, said: ‘We are on the brink of a new surge in community energy and opportunities for community benefits and community investment in commercial schemes as part of a local energy imperative.’
Nicholas Gubbins, Chief Executive, Community Energy Scotland, welcomed the draft Policy. He said “Energy is becoming an even more economic and environmentally significant issue for all of us and this initiative is welcome because it charts an exciting and ‘joined-up’ way forward for getting the most value from local renewable energy generation.
“We’ve got great renewable energy resources at community level – why are we selling it off cheaply at wholesale rates, then buying it back – often in the form of fossil-fuels – at a much more expensive rate?
“The decentralised, local energy economy vision offers a route to increase the value of the energy we generate, keep more of its value in local economies and reduce fossil fuel use.’
Community Energy Scotland is the charity which represents and supports community energy projects across Scotland. Gubbins added:
“The Scottish Government is keeping their support schemes up to date. The document shows we have moved –on from generation on its own to a Local Energy Economies model of the future. Energy storage, demand reduction and demand management are all in the mix now.
“The three priorities of Community ownership, community empowerment and local environmental action are all marching forward together. Pathfinder projects on Gigha and in Orkney all show that jobs, innovation and sustainability are the other three outcomes of community energy projects.’