A target which aims to get renewable energy into community or local ownership has been met five years early. An estimated 508 megawatts (MW) of community and locally owned capacity is now operational in Scotland which exceeds the 500MW target by 2020.
The announcement was made by the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing ahead of the Holyrood Magazine Community Energy Conference in Perth later today.
The Scottish Government’s recently published its first ever Community Energy Policy Statement, which outlines the economic and social benefits of shared energy ownership and promotes a new approach to energy development in Scotland.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Community energy represents tremendous potential to empower people to make the most of their own local resources. By creating a system that focuses on local energy, we can help to tackle some of our most pressing issues – from security of supply, to increasing energy costs – and stimulate local economic renewal.
“I am delighted we have met this target early which creates a huge opportunity to increase our ambition and to keep Scotland in the lead. We will be considering the scope to review our target alongside other energy policy development over the coming months.
“There are still challenges we need to overcome – community energy generally has higher capital costs, longer lead in times and frequent delays in connecting to the grid, while the UK Government is intent on slashing support for small scale renewables.
“The first national Community Energy Policy Statement makes community energy a central part of our energy ambitions and we are providing the best possible environment to help ambitious community groups reap the financial benefits of owning or hosting renewables schemes. I want to see more communities take decisions about their local energy system and to have an economic stake in new developments.”
Anne Schiffer, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “We wish to congratulate the Scottish Government and those communities involved who have made this happen. With the UK Government’s sustained and ideological attack on renewable energy, this announcement is fantastic news.
“What is important now is that we see this as a starting point of a citizen-led renewables transformation not the end. Scotland must continue to lead the way to an energy future that benefits both people and the planet. To ensure even more communities benefit across the country, we urge the Scottish Government to double the 2020 target to 1000MW as well as set an ambitious target of 2000MW for 2030.”
“Community ownership has been instrumental in achieving broader public acceptance of renewables and is vital in helping reach the Scottish Government’s 100% renewable energy target for electricity demand by 2020. Community energy helps tackle climate change and enables communities to use local natural resources to create jobs and strengthen local economies.
“Climate change means that we have to transform our energy systems from dirty fossil fuels to renewables. Community energy allows us to put people at the heart of that change.”