by Energy Matters
A growing number of people are starting renewable energy schemes in their communities through co-operatives and other forms of collaboration.
A recent report from Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group states 43 communities are in the process of or already producing renewable energy by investing money to install solar panels, large wind turbines or hydro-electric power in their area.
£16 million has been invested by over 7,000 people in these schemes, which include a £2 million wind farm and a 98kW solar photovoltaic installation on the roof of a brewery.
The report says green economy co-operatives are the most rapidly growing part of the UK co-op sector, jumping 24% since 2008.
In addition to these co-operatives' efforts seeing clean, renewable energy being supplied to their communities, there is also a financial return to participants through the sale of electricity produced.
The co-operative approach covered in the report basically works like this:
- A core group establishes the feasibility of a project, a process that may be assisted by a grant or the advice from other co-ops or non-profits.
- A share prospectus outlining the business plan, expected return on investment and other benefits is published and marketed locally.
- All investors become members of the co-op.
- Once sufficient funding is raised, which may also involve a bank loan, the facility is constructed.
- Members receive a return and decide how profits will be allocated.
Paul Monaghan of The Co-operative Group says the potential for a community-led clean energy revolution in the UK is huge.