Scotland has met the government target of installing more than 500MW of locally-owned community-generated renewable energy – five years ahead of schedule.
The government was initially hoping to meet this target by 2020 but today Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing is announcing that an estimated 508 megawatts of community and locally owned capacity is now operational.
The recently published Scottish Government Community Energy Policy Statement outlines the economic and social benefits of shared energy ownership and promotes a new approach to energy development in Scotland.
Ewing said: “Community energy represents tremendous potential to empower people to make the most of their own local resources. By creating a system that focuses on local energy, we can help to tackle some of the most pressing issues – from security of supply, to increasing energy costs – and stimulate local economic renewal.
“I am delighted we have met this target early which creates a huge opportunity to increase our ambition and to keep Scotland in the lead. We will be considering the scope to review our target alongside other energy policy development over the coming months.
“There are still challenges we need to overcome – community energy generally has higher capital costs, longer lead in times and frequent delays in connecting to the grid, while the UK Government is intent on slashing support for small scale renewables.”
The main Scottish Government support for community energy includes:
- The Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), delivered by Local Energy Scotland, which aims to provide end to end support – both through finance and mentoring – to community groups from their initial engagement in the renewable journey through to installing technologies themselves or benefitting from commercial schemes;
- The Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), delivered by Scottish Investment Bank, which is a capital support mechanism, offering loans, guarantees and equity to commercial renewables developers and community groups at market rates to address market failure in priority areas, such as marine energy and community renewables, and the:
- Local Energy Challenge Fund to demonstrate the value of a local energy economy approach with over £20 million being offered this financial year.