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The case for community-based equity
participation in Scottish on-shore wind
energy production

Bill Slee
The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen

Accounting for Low Carbon Communities
Workshop Edinburgh February 2013
Why the title?
 A realisation that there is a gap
  between possibility and
  actuality in engaging
  communities in renewable
  energy production
 A realisation that on places like
  Gigha it has helped lay the
  foundation for both a
  turnaround in the island’s
  fortunes and a decarbonisation
  of their energy system
 A realisation that, looking back,
  that vision was promulgated by
  Tom Johnston and hydropower
  in the 1940s
Relative costs of renewables and
conventional energy
How renewable energy production capacity
can be owned

   Through large privatised utility companies like SSE, and a
    mix of other energy production companies from green
    businesses like Ecotricity, to venture capitalists like Infinis;
    and often foreign owned (Vattenfall)
   By private landowners like Maitland Mackie and a lot of
    NE farmers
   By co-ops (Baywind in Cumbria and part of Boyndie)
   By communities (e.g. Udny, Gigha or in shared equity
    community schemes like Fintry, Stirlingshire or Neilston,
    Renfrewshire )
Some oversimplified economics
 Turbines cost c £1.2-1.5 million per MW installed capacity
 They generate c £150,-200,000 profit per year
 They create very few local jobs when they are externally
  owned- computer controlled and with roving maintenance
  teams
 Ground rent is in the region of £12,000 MW/year
 Companies pay up to £5,000 per MW per year into community
  trusts; mostly near £2K.
 So on a standard wind farm, less than 10% of the value of
  output stays in the rural economy,; much less if an absentee
  landowner is involved
There is an alternative
 Community ownership

 Supported by CES and the CARES scheme

 Government target of 500 MW of privately owned small
  scale + community renewables

 This model has taken off in the islands (Orkney, Shetland
  and the Western Isles) and is now moving elsewhere
  Neilston, Fintry in Central Scotland, Udny in
  Aberdeenshire.

 Several big schemes in pipeline: Rosneath
  Dunbartonshire 10 MW
What is the difference?
 Udny can spend £150K on local development this year alone as
  income from a 800 kW turbine
 All of Gigha’s housing stock has been insulated making major
  carbon savings on the back of the three turbines 100K a year
  income
 Neilston can put into effect a major regeneration plan for the
  community and finance it from a 50 % share on a 9.2 MW
  scheme
 Shapinsay can fund community busses and other local
  initiatives
 Fintry can fund energy advice and support, insulation support
  changes to green energy for homes
Why is there not more community energy?
 Planning, planning and planning
     High transaction costs of getting a scheme approved (but CARES
       scheme will cover this)
     No real recognition of social and economic development as a
       planning concern(parked by planners because of contributions to
       trust funds)
       NB Social and economic development is a material consideration
    in planning
     A failure of planning committees to distinguish between different
       effects of different models of ownership

 Getting the leadership together to promote a scheme

 Getting the last bit of finance (Co-op bank is good for about 90%)
Other benefits of community schemes

 Social and environmental justice

 Building social capital- getting local folk to work together
  pool skills etc.

 Funding low carbon improvements and low carbon
  lifestyles, esp in places like Fintry and Gigha

 Local people can decide what they want to do with the
  proceeds

 Providing a stepping stone to tackling difficult problems
  like fuel poverty
Where does this connect to community
carbon accounting
 First and foremost it delivers the financial means to alter
  carbon footprints- the Gugha example

 Second it can be a consciousness builder with regard to
  community engagement : a visual symbol of community
  engagement with the need to build a post-carbon
  economy and society – see the Fintry video

 Third in remote areas –which are places with amongst the
  highest per capita carbon footprints it directly addresses
  the problem
Conclusions
 Renewables are a ‘game changer’ for rural Scotland if and only if
  the ownership structures are right, otherwise 90% of the benefits
  will leach straight out of rural Scotland.
 Community renewables are a game changer not so much for
  carbon accounting but for all-round carbon reduction
 The 500 MW target which is a mere 250 large turbines could
  produce 20% of the current income of Scottish farming
 We cannot afford not to get the policies right and the support
  structures right and the planning system right to keep the benefits
  in rural areas
 Rural development experts talk about the need for community
  empowerment, this extends to peoples’ responsibilities for their
  carbon emissions
  Community energy is just about the most effective way to achieve it
Thank you

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The case for community based equity participation in scottish on-shore wind energy production - bill slee

  • 1. The case for community-based equity participation in Scottish on-shore wind energy production Bill Slee The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen Accounting for Low Carbon Communities Workshop Edinburgh February 2013
  • 2. Why the title?  A realisation that there is a gap between possibility and actuality in engaging communities in renewable energy production  A realisation that on places like Gigha it has helped lay the foundation for both a turnaround in the island’s fortunes and a decarbonisation of their energy system  A realisation that, looking back, that vision was promulgated by Tom Johnston and hydropower in the 1940s
  • 3. Relative costs of renewables and conventional energy
  • 4. How renewable energy production capacity can be owned  Through large privatised utility companies like SSE, and a mix of other energy production companies from green businesses like Ecotricity, to venture capitalists like Infinis; and often foreign owned (Vattenfall)  By private landowners like Maitland Mackie and a lot of NE farmers  By co-ops (Baywind in Cumbria and part of Boyndie)  By communities (e.g. Udny, Gigha or in shared equity community schemes like Fintry, Stirlingshire or Neilston, Renfrewshire )
  • 5. Some oversimplified economics  Turbines cost c £1.2-1.5 million per MW installed capacity  They generate c £150,-200,000 profit per year  They create very few local jobs when they are externally owned- computer controlled and with roving maintenance teams  Ground rent is in the region of £12,000 MW/year  Companies pay up to £5,000 per MW per year into community trusts; mostly near £2K.  So on a standard wind farm, less than 10% of the value of output stays in the rural economy,; much less if an absentee landowner is involved
  • 6.
  • 7. There is an alternative  Community ownership  Supported by CES and the CARES scheme  Government target of 500 MW of privately owned small scale + community renewables  This model has taken off in the islands (Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles) and is now moving elsewhere Neilston, Fintry in Central Scotland, Udny in Aberdeenshire.  Several big schemes in pipeline: Rosneath Dunbartonshire 10 MW
  • 8.
  • 9. What is the difference?  Udny can spend £150K on local development this year alone as income from a 800 kW turbine  All of Gigha’s housing stock has been insulated making major carbon savings on the back of the three turbines 100K a year income  Neilston can put into effect a major regeneration plan for the community and finance it from a 50 % share on a 9.2 MW scheme  Shapinsay can fund community busses and other local initiatives  Fintry can fund energy advice and support, insulation support changes to green energy for homes
  • 10. Why is there not more community energy?  Planning, planning and planning  High transaction costs of getting a scheme approved (but CARES scheme will cover this)  No real recognition of social and economic development as a planning concern(parked by planners because of contributions to trust funds) NB Social and economic development is a material consideration in planning  A failure of planning committees to distinguish between different effects of different models of ownership  Getting the leadership together to promote a scheme  Getting the last bit of finance (Co-op bank is good for about 90%)
  • 11. Other benefits of community schemes  Social and environmental justice  Building social capital- getting local folk to work together pool skills etc.  Funding low carbon improvements and low carbon lifestyles, esp in places like Fintry and Gigha  Local people can decide what they want to do with the proceeds  Providing a stepping stone to tackling difficult problems like fuel poverty
  • 12. Where does this connect to community carbon accounting  First and foremost it delivers the financial means to alter carbon footprints- the Gugha example  Second it can be a consciousness builder with regard to community engagement : a visual symbol of community engagement with the need to build a post-carbon economy and society – see the Fintry video  Third in remote areas –which are places with amongst the highest per capita carbon footprints it directly addresses the problem
  • 13. Conclusions  Renewables are a ‘game changer’ for rural Scotland if and only if the ownership structures are right, otherwise 90% of the benefits will leach straight out of rural Scotland.  Community renewables are a game changer not so much for carbon accounting but for all-round carbon reduction  The 500 MW target which is a mere 250 large turbines could produce 20% of the current income of Scottish farming  We cannot afford not to get the policies right and the support structures right and the planning system right to keep the benefits in rural areas  Rural development experts talk about the need for community empowerment, this extends to peoples’ responsibilities for their carbon emissions Community energy is just about the most effective way to achieve it