The Scottish Government’s push to allow communities to invest along with commercial developers in renewable energy schemes in their locality is a major priority in the months ahead.
And Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has made sure that Local Energy Scotland do everything they can to sort out the barriers for these shared ownership projects.
Local Energy Scotland has produced a draft Good Practice Guide and has been holding meetings across Scotland to see how bankers, developers, land agents, solicitors, community groups and planners might all cooperate to allow local community investment in on shore renewable energy schemes.
The converse is also possible, where a community-led scheme wants to attract a commercial developer to build an ambitious local renewable project.
Community Energy Scotland’s Laura Nicolson attended the recent Shared Ownership Workshop held in Inverness by Local Energy Scotland.
She commented ‘The workshop was excellent. It examined the draft Shared Ownership Good Practice Guide in detail and recommended improvements. Everyone has an opportunity to comment to the consultation which has a deadline of 9 June 2015.”
Three major points which arose from a full discussion at the meeting; –
- The Scottish planning process must attribute some additional value to projects which seek consents on the basis that ownership will be shared. Without a clear steer there will be no incentive for developers or investors to fully engage with the shared ownership options.
- The projects must be structured in a way which makes bank investment possible. Unless the set up is robust, bank finance will not be available.
- The different methods of sharing ownership and benefits are also needing to rationalised. Joint ventures using Special purpose vehicles, where the community and the developer join forces in a third company for the purposes of building and operating the development is one of the strongest structures. Other forms, such as split ownership – with two grid connections may not be ideal, but which may have advantages and attract Community Feed In Tariff. Projects where developers build projects then offer to sell a proportion to the local community, the ‘build and transfer’ model, may not have the same collaborative benefits of a joint venture where the community is involved at an earlier stage.
Laura added: “‘The workshop on future shared ownership was very useful. I’d recommend anyone with interest in this field to read the draft Good Practice Principles at this link and respond to Local Energy Scotland as soon as possible and before 9 June 2015.
Good Practice Principles For Shared Ownership Of Onshore Renewable Energy Developments (Draft for Public Consultation) http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/03/2956