The Co-operative Group has published a new report revealing that growing numbers of people are choosing to start renewable energy co-operatives in their communities despite current economic uncertainty.
The 44-page report states that a total of 16 energy co-operatives are in the process of, or planning to, undertake feasibility studies. If all of these projects succeed they will bring online a total of 8.5MW of generation capacity.
Several examples are outlined in the “Co-operative renewable energy in the UK: a guide to this growing sector” document, including the Ouse Valley Energy Company (OVESCo) 98kW solar installation on the roof of a local brewery warehouse in Lewes, East Sussex and the Green Energy Nayland (GEN)15kW solar project on the roof of a primary school in Suffolk.
In total, UK residents have invested over £16 million in co-operative schemes such as these, with investment ranging from over £4 million – which has been invested by over 2,700 people in Westmill Wind Farm in Oxfordshire – through to around £38,000 which was invested by around 34 local residents for the Nayland school project.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the trade association for co-operative enterprises said, “Overall, Co-operative renewable energy in the UK is a testimony to the fact that green economy co-operatives are the fastest growing part of the UK co-operative sector, having grown by an astonishing 24 per cent since 2008.”
However; despite this success recent policy alternations – most notably the solar feed-in tariff saga – have caused a lot of disruption in the renewable energy industry. Without certainty surrounding the investment rate of return, the future of these co-operative schemes could be in jeopardy.
The full Co-operative Group report can be read here.