Co-operative ownership of renewable energy is not a new idea. In Denmark 23% of the country’s energy supply comes from co- operatives.
Through this approach, many new renewable energy installations are being carried out across the UK and the world, with a focus on providing a positive social, environmental and economic impact for the local community.
Community-led sustainable energy projects are on the increase across the UK, with local people coming together to install solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, biomass boilers, hydro systems and more.
To find out more about this fast-growing sector, we suggest taking a look at:
- The Community Energy Manifesto – up to date information on the spread and positive impact of community energy in the UK to date
- Plan LoCal – a range of videos and online resources all about community energy projects in the UK
PROJECTS IN THE UK
Alongside Green Fox, there are an increasing number of locally based co-operatives seeking to develop renewable energy projects in their area through community investment and participation. Some of the many examples include:
- Woolhope Woodheat – raised £332,000 in 2012 to establish the UK’s first woodchip boiler community co-op
- Ovesco – raised close to £307,000 to install a large solar photovoltaic system on a local brewery
- Westmill – opened in 2008 in Oxfordshire, raised £4.6m to finance the purchase and construction of five wind turbines
- Sustainable Hockerton – installed a wind turbine to generate clean energy in their village in 2009. The co-op’s members invested a total of £235,000, with profits from the enterprise used to provide on-going funding for local sustainability projects.
- Brighton Energy Co-op – installed the largest solar system in Sussex in 2012 through a community share offer
Co-operatives are democratic structures with the legal ability to raise money for community benefit, directly from members of the public. With a one member one vote system and a board elected from the membership, they offer a fair and transparent way to operate a community owned renewable energy business.
They also have the power to prioritise investment in the local area, ensuring that financial benefits from renewable energy are felt by people in the locality. They are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
You can find out more about what’s involved in running a community share offer by reading this guide to community investing.