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Community energy strategy is green wash not genuine power to the people

South West Green Party have greeted with derision the announcement from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that the government is to invest £10 million in community renewable energy generation projects [1].

The £10 million kick-start fund for community generation projects in England is part of a new Community Energy strategy announced by the coalition government this week. The figure has been described as ‘paltry’ by Greens. They point out that this is likely to fund no more than 70 community schemes across the whole of England between now and 2020; just 10 a year. They contrast this with the fivefold increase in the number of renewable energy co-operatives in Germany between 2007 (101) and 2011 (586) [2]. The strategy also lacks any commitment to increase the amount paid to community groups through the feed-in tariff for generating their own renewable electricity.

Molly Scott Cato, lead South West Green Party candidate for the European elections, said:

"The government is spinning this strategy as ‘power to the people’. It’s no such thing of course. Ed Davy and his department would do well to look to our European neighbours in Denmark and Germany who are really empowering people to take control of their energy supply. In both countries communities wanting to generate their own energy have been offered ongoing support in the form of high and guaranteed levels of feed-in tariff. By contrast Davey’s limited announcement suggests that this is more of a PR exercise than a genuine commitment to community ownership of energy."

Before Christmas, Dr Scott Cato visited an example of a community renewable scheme in South Brent, Devon. Their community-owned wind turbine, paid for entirely through the issue of shares to local people, began generating electricity in September 2013. By early December 2013 it had generated over 80,000kWh towards an annual target of between 300,000 and 400,000kWh. The Society hopes to be able to reinvest around £10,000 a year into local energy saving and generating initiatives in the South Brent area [3].

Notes:   

[1] Press release from DECC: http://bit.ly/1i6J7Ml and summary of strategy: http://bit.ly/1cpeIrI

[2] The German Energiewende (Energy transition) website: http://energytransition.de/2012/10/key-findings/   

[3] http://www.renewableenergyblog.org/2013/06/07/south-brent-community-wind-turbine/

 

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