The Scottish Renewables Annual Conference on 26th& 27th March, Edinburgh, Edinburgh included a talk by the highly amusing and utterly brilliant Robert Llewellyn. Best known by many as mechanoid Kryten in the hit TV sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf and as a presenter of the TV engineering gameshow Scrapheap Challenge, Robert shared insights and anecdotes from his two-year campaign to persuade residents of his idyllic Cotswolds village, Temple Guiting, to generate their own power through renewable sources (as captured in a BBC Four documentary series ‘The Great Village Green Crusade).
This democratisation of renewables was something of a theme throughout the conference, as was the determination to deliver subsidy-free projects; RES’s strong statement that they would achieve this was echoed by other equally determined and well-placed businesses from the conference floor.
Amongst these was Scottish not-for-profit energy supplier Our Power’s founding CEO, Dawn Muspratt quietly announcing the launch of Our Community Energy (OCE) – an innovative new initiative co-founded with the UK’s biggest service provider for community energy, Mongoose Energy. Its mission is to use the benefits of renewable energy generation to alleviate fuel poverty across the UK, meaning investors* in its windfarms not only support green energy and in some cases have a say in the organisation but help efforts to solve a critical social issue. It will contribute to the delivery of subsidy-free wind whilst ensuring social impacts – which the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon targeted during her own conference address – remain at the heart of Scotland’s renewables revolution.
This is no easy challenge. The loss of subsidies has made a big impact on the returns we can expect from renewables. OCE believe that a way to address this whilst providing a shared ownership model is to mobilise ethical investment – which accepts lower returns – in order to reduce the cost of capital required to finance the project. These investors will – de facto – be attracted by real delivery of impacts – in our case tacking the problem of fuel poverty through cofounders not-for-profit energy supplier Our Power.
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*Capital at risk; returns not guaranteed