These pages are aimed at landowners, groups of landowners and established community groups, and provide the key information you need to develop a community wind project from scratch. Use the links at the side of the page now to find out more.
Over the next few decades the UK energy supply infrastructure will change dramatically from a centralised, fossil-fuelled system to a decentralised ‘distributed’ system with a significant proportion of renewable generators, including wind turbines. This will be largely driven by CO2 emission reduction targets due to climate change, economic drivers if fossil-fuel prices continue to rise and strategic moves to increase home-grown energy security.
In parallel there will be a revolution in the ownership of the equipment that generates our electricity and an increasing expectation that the community that hosts a generator should also own it (at least partially) and get the financial benefits. This will be particularly true for wind turbines where the local community can see it but don’t necessarily get any financial benefit. In Germany 15% of renewable energy generation is owned by local communities, and in Denmark it is 86%. For comparison in the UK it is less than 0.5%!
The UK Government has launched an ambitious Community Energy Strategy which aims to open the door to community ownership for renewable energy generators. The strategy is quite broad and includes energy efficiency, demand management and collective purchasing, as well as generating energy. It is likely that most activity will be centred around the generation of energy with community wind and solar projects the most popular, plus a reasonable amount of community hydro.
Community wind projects have the potential to really engage with your community and create a great sense of wellbeing by taking responsibility for your energy supply and doing your bit to fight climate change. There will of course be some local opponents who can cause friction, but it’s surprising how much opposition disappears when the financial benefits from a wind turbine stay in the local community. Nowadays the usual ‘anti-wind’ arguments have all been shown to be unfounded, except the issue that wind turbines are very visual in the landscape, but that is very subjective because most people find them acceptable, elegant and a symbol of positive progress.
You may ask ‘what does Renewables First get out of it?’ We are a commercial business that offers all of the engineering and technical expertise you need to take a wind project from initial idea to working turbine. By partnering with communities at the beginning of projects we hope to build a successful partnership so you would choose Renewables First to provide the technical services to deliver your project. These would be chargeable services, but we are very good value and provide an excellent service!
How does the Feed-in Tariff work for community projects?
The Feed-in Tariff for community wind projects works in exactly the same way as with commercial developments, with two additional benefits available to groups which meet the definition outlined above.
The first benefit extends FiT pre-accreditation for community wind projects to 18 months (previously 12 months), acknowledging the additional time required for administration and community engagement.
The second benefit affects shared ownership projects, allowing two projects to share a single grid connection point but receive separate FiT rates, providing one project is community-owned and the other is commercial.
If your project involves several community groups working together, it is worth noting that only one community organisation may apply for FiT at each development. Any arrangements for shared ownership using community subgroups need to be agreed privately between each of the parties.
Use our expert technical consultancy services
Want to install a wind turbine?
If you are in the UK then take our Wind Site Self-Assessment - Step 1 of our modular Windpower Feasibility Study. It takes about 20 minutes to work through the basic checks to see if your site might be suitable, including:
- Estimating wind speed
- Checking proximity of nearby properties
- Checking site access and approach roads
- Investigating connection with the grid