By RTCC staff
Community-run renewable energy projects could cut costs and emissions, according to a report published today by UK think-tank ResPublica.
The study warns that continued government support for a ‘closed shop’ of major energy firms could have a negative impact on the UK’s climate, social and economic targets.
Re-energising our Communities: Transforming the energy market through local energy production argues that involving local communities in energy provision would have tangible benefits – as the current ‘centralised’ supply lines are inherently wasteful.
“An increase in demand is met with an increase in supply, creating high levels of waste and surplus capacity in the process,” the report says.
“Because there is no obvious connection between the energy that comes into people’s homes and the level of their consumption, price becomes the only mechanism to encourage responsible usage.”
It cites projects such as Torrs Hydro – the UK’s first community-owned hydropower scheme in New Mills, Derbyshire – as examples of how energy production can be devolved, and has called on the UK government to support such schemes.
Under current guidelines Torrs does not benefit from Feed in Tariffs, but the Department of Energy and Climate Change says ‘similar community schemes will be eligible’ in the future.
Windsor Castle recently installed the first of two Archimedes screw turbines – with the aim of providing 300KW of power to the Royal household. They cost almost £700,000 to make and £1 million to install.
Ed Mayo, ResPublica fellow and director general of Co-operatives UK, said: “The beauty of renewable energy that is co-operatively owned and community level is that it solves the twin issues of social acceptance and economic efficiency.
“This report is right to call for intelligent nudges to make it easier for people to come together, reversing decades of energy policies limited to big is beautiful.
“Everyone benefits if we can draw community energy production into the centre of the new energy economy.”
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