Brighton Energy Coop is calling for companies developing renewables to support community-energy schemes, following the launch of a consultation by DECC.

Our proposal is that private renewable energy developments help finance locally-owned energy projects as part of their benefit to the impacted community. This is in line with DECC’s stated ambition that “communities secure financial, social and environmental benefit (from local renewables).”

The DECC consultation is targeted at onshore wind projects. However, community benefits derived from all renewable projects are relevant.

Brighton Energy Coop is discussing much the same with EON, following our call for community involvement in the Rampion project, an offshore wind development off Sussex.

Our proposition:
A portion of revenue from renewable developments should help kick-start further local energy projects, owned and operated by the local community.

As such a portion of the revenue from the private development go towards:
– Seed capital to help local energy co-operatives develop renewable projects
– Investment in Capital costs

This would have the benefit of:
– Increase locally-owned renewable energy
– Engage the community financially via share issues to part-fund capital costs
– Increase economic activity by providing a return on this investment

The revenue could be sourced via a percentage of the revenue, and distributed from a fund which appraises and evaluates applications from the local community.

Typically community benefits have involved the building and improving of local infrastructure, i.e. village halls and the like. See some examples on the DECC website here. While this is a great result, we believe that the capital used is more effectively used by recycling it into further economic activity, such as stimulating growth in the energy coop sector. Thus the capital is put to work, delivering a return on investment and not simply spent on asset improvement.

A good example is Brighton Energy Coop, in which local people invested £150,000 to own and run 133kwp of solar in Brighton. Investers receive a 4% return starting year 3, as well as funding further renewable projects, which in turn offer further opportunities for local investment.

So: we encourage you to add your voice to the DECC consultation: you can see how here.

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