Green energy bosses call on government to cut red tape for renewable power projects | Science | News

Those who have invested in nearby wind and solar farms want law changes to let electricity generators to become local suppliers.

Tom Parkinson, of Westmill Solar Co-operative – the first fully community-owned onshore wind farm in the south of England – said the sector needs a “level playing field”.

The scheme in Swindon, Wilts, which includes a solar park, has more than 2,000 members who benefit from local electricity generation.

Tom said: “We’re viewed as a Cinderella part of the sector in that we do good, we can add a bit, but we are underestimated in how critical a link we are. We don’t need that much support, just a level playing field.”

He said there are “regulatory constraints” on their ability to supply as well as the way networks charge. Tom added: “They don’t really credit the fact that it is cheaper to supply somebody five miles away than to pump it miles and miles down the line to somewhere else. So all their charging systems are designed for long distance big suppliers.”

Community-owned energy projects sell their power to a national supplier because they are unable to supply it themselves. The initiatives also tackle issues such as improving transport connections, while the income could be used to fund nearby projects.

A report by Aquatera Ltd found Scotland’s community-owned wind farms provided on average 34 times more benefit payments to local communities than privately-owned wind farms. The returns from community-owned projects average £170,000 per installed megawatt a year compared with the industry standard of £5,000.

Steve Shaw, of campaign group Power for People, said: “When cheap, home-produced energy has never been more vital, the UK finds itself far behind other countries in the amount of small-scale renewable energy we generate.”


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