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 â€˜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; RESâ€™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 Powerâ€™s founding CEO, Dawn Muspratt quietly announcing the launch of Our Community Energy (OCE) – an innovative new initiative co-founded with the UKâ€™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 â€“ remain at the heart of Scotlandâ€™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 â€“ which accepts lower returns – in order to reduce the cost of capital required to finance the project. These investors will â€“ de facto â€“ 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