Holyrood MPs to debate community renewable energy

Site of the Harlaw hydro power scheme, Edinburgh
Site of the Harlaw hydro power scheme, Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament will today (15 Sept) debate community renewable energy in Scotland to coincide with UK’s Community Energy Fortnight as Friends of the Earth Scotland call for a doubling in such capacity.

The motion for today’s debate has been put down by Mike MacKenzie, MSP (SNP, Highlands and Islands). It reads:

  • “That Parliament welcomes Community Energy Fortnight 2015, which takes place from 5 to 20 September with events across Scotland to celebrate and highlight what it considers the important role that communities have in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency:
  • “Notes that events to mark the fortnight include site visits and knowledge-sharing events in the Highlands and Islands, South Lanarkshire and in other local authority areas:
  • “And recognises what it sees as the vital role that communities will play in helping to meet Scotland’s carbon and renewables targets, and congratulates the Scottish Community Energy Coalition and other groups that support communities and rural businesses to develop renewable energy schemes to create sustainable communities across Scotland.”

The government’s existing target is for 500MW of local and community-owned renewable energy by 2020. 285MW of community and locally owned renewable energy was already installed by 2013 with a further 679MW in the pipeline.

Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling for the 500MW by 2020 target to be increased to 1GW.

One example of a renewable community energy scheme is Harlaw Hydro Ltd, set up by the Balerno Village Trust in Edinburgh.

Once upon a time, the Water of Leith river that runs through Balerno powered approximately 70 mills located on its banks. Harlaw Hydro aims to produce electricity through a 95kW hydro scheme that will generate enough electricity for approximately 56 homes from a micro-hydro-electric power scheme at nearby Harlaw reservoir.

Anne Schiffer, community power campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented: “Community-owned renewable energy is a big success story in Scotland and helps deliver community empowerment, creates local jobs and reduces climate change emissions.

“Despite the UK Government’s lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy, Scotland is on track to deliver nearly twice as much as the Scottish Government’s current target for 2020 and we should send a clear message by increasing the 2020 target and setting a new ambitious target for 2030.
“Now more than ever, the Scottish Government must continue to show vision and a long-term commitment to a future powered by renewables.

“With its unique community and locally owned energy target, Scotland has established itself internationally as a recognised leader in renewable energy. Both the environment and people must be at the heart of the renewable energy transformation we need to head off climate change and we believe that the best way to achieve this is through people’s ownership of renewable energy.”

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