Germany and Denmark both generate around 25% of their renewable energy from community-owned and cooperative schemes. So let’s get cracking in Calderdale.
Calderdale Council support for community renewables
Calderdale Council’s Calderdale’s Energy Future (CEF) strategy, which came into effect on 1st April 2012, proposes that the Council and its partners in the Strategy will support community renewable schemes by:
- aiming to find money and provide support (CEF Strategy p24)
- supporting a number of exemplar community renewable schemes as a pilot for future projects (CEF Strategy ps 18 & 28)
- supporting community-owned schemes like renewable energy installations, district heating schemes and woodland development” (CEF Strategy, p23)
- identifying suitable sites and providing support and guidance for getting community renewable schemes up and running.(ps 23 & 18)
Existing community renewable projects in the Upper Calder Valley
Pennine Community Power – a Community Benefit Society
Blackshaw Environmental Action Team’s (BEAT) offshoot Pennine Community Power has set up a 10kW community wind turbine that will generate enough electricity for 3-8 households and produce an annual income for the community of £4K-£14K/year for 20 years. Pennine Community Power (PCP) is a Community Benefit Society that received received a £30K grant to part-fund the installation of the wind turbine, and raised the remaining £30K through a Community Share Offer.
Community Benefit Societies are:
incorporated industrial and provident societies (IPS) that conduct business for the benefit of their community. Profits are not distributed among members, or external shareholders, but returned to the community.(Business Link)
For anyone interested in launching & marketing community share offers, there’s useful info here.
Power from the Landscape is based at Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre. It aims to:
“provide information, advice and practical help to potential micro hydro site owners/groups (and interested parties) that enable them to develop plans for micro hydro generation in the South Pennines.”
Power from the Landscape is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, to install turbines at 8 sites in the area.
Schools and community renewable energy schemes are eligible for Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments for the electricity they produce – although the UK coalition government put a limit of 50kW on renewable installations that are eligible for FiTs, making it uneconomic for some planned solar electricity (pv) schemes for schools and communities to go ahead.
The Renewable Heat Incentive is kind of like the FIT, except it will be paid for out of public funding rather than by the energy companies, and it is a subsidy for biomass heat and power. It will pay people for producing heat and power from biomass (eg new and waste wood, energy crops, waste from farms, industry, households etc). However, many people and organisations dispute the usefulness and value of biomass heat and power for various reasons, including:
- the length of time it takes for new trees to absorb carbon emissions from burning biomass
- the effect on food production of using land for biomass production
- air pollution and nuisance from smells and smoke from burning biomass.
(A Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive will be available soon for householders who heat their homes and water using renewable heat technologies like solar thermal, air or ground source heat pumps, wood pellet boilers etc. It is mostly aimed at households off the gas main, although it’s not limited to those households.)
If you’re interested in setting up a community renewable scheme…
You can download a free copy of the Rough Guide to renewable energy.
This is what you need to do if you want to set up a community renewable scheme:
- find a site with enough wind, water flow or sun to generate the amount of energy you need (the pre-feasibility survey stage)
- unless the community group already owns the land, find out who owns it and if they’ll give you permission (this is the stage the Dog Bottom micro hydro project is currently at)
- talk to the neighbours and find out what they think about the idea
- find out about connecting to the National Grid to sell your surplus energy and get Feed in Tariff payments
- find out if the site is protected for environmental, heritage, scientific or any other reasons
- find out if there’s suitable access for installing and maintaining the generators
- get planning permission
- find out if there are any other limitations or problems at the site
- arrange finance and assess the risks
Elsewhere – Bristol’s community renewables revolving loan fund