Call for evidence: Tell us your locally owned community energy story

 

Last year, Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs announced new targets for energy generation in Wales. Targets include Wales generating 70 per cent of its electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2030 with renewable energy projects having at least an element of local ownership by 2020.

Welsh Government is now gathering evidence of benefits and impacts we can expect from increasing the amount of locally owned energy generation. This is an area where renewable energy community co-operatives are experts. The call for evidence is an opportunity to feed into WG’s work to develop approaches to locally owned community energy policy to help ensure that it meets the needs of co-ops in Wales. We’re putting together a response and it would be great to have feedback from those on the ground to feed into this. Please feel free to comment at the end of this blog or contact Ceri-Anne Fidler.

You can read and respond to the full call for evidence on Welsh Government’s website but we’ve summarised the most relevant points below.

Local, shared and community ownership

Welsh Government proposes the following definitions:

  • Locally owned energy – installations based in Wales and owned by an individual or organisation based in Wales or whose principal headquarters are in Wales
  • Shared ownership should involve people who are based in Wales and provide benefit to Wales, not only external shareholders.
  • Community ownership involves energy developments located in Wales which are wholly owned by a social enterprise whose assets and profits are legally committed to the delivery of social and/or environmental objectives in Wales.

Do you agree with these definitions? Do they accurately reflect how you define your organisation?

Welsh Government also suggest that shared ownership of larger projects could be an important way of growing the amount of energy generation in local ownership in Wales and delivering real, lasting benefits to the communities who host these projects. Do you have any experience of working with larger projects in this way? What was the benefit to your community?

Evidence of benefits of ownership

Welsh Government is interested in gathering evidence of the benefits of ownership. What are the benefits that you think your projects delivered for your community and for Wales? This could include local economic benefit, community benefit funds and non-financial benefits such as community empowerment, skills development and tackling local fuel poverty.

In your experience, are there any specific challenges relating to the shared ownership of projects?

Ownership models

Ownership models outlined by Welsh Government include community owned co-operatives such as Bro Dyfi Community Renewables; joint ownership between the community and landowner such as Transition Bro Gwaun; and, projects that are completely owned by the developer, such as the Pen y Cymoedd Wind farm.

  • What ownership model does your project use? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this model?
  • What do you think are the most useful models in delivering shared ownership and local benefit?
  • Are there other ownership models should Welsh Government consider?

 

Finance

Welsh Government outline what it considers to be the main sources of capital funding for renewable energy projects. These include:

  • Traditional commercial lenders
  • Community funds from large renewable projects
  • Share offers

What types of finance did your project use? Why did you choose to use certain types of finance? How easy were they to access? Did your shared ownership model have any impact on your access to or cost of finance?

If you have used share offers, was it difficult to restrict this to a geographic area and if so what impact did this have on your project? Did it dilute the community focus of the project? Is it more important for the project to be community owned and controlled or is the ownership of the capital more important?

Not for profit umbrella organisation

Welsh Government have explored the potential for a ‘not for profit’ energy company for Wales. Through this call for evidence they are also considering:

  • Is there a role for a not for profit energy companies in encouraging more shared ownership of renewable energy projects through this call for evidence.
  • A Wales-wide investment mechanism to raise Welsh funds to help fund locally owned projects, perhaps on a not for profit basis.

Do you think these would be useful?

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