A CAMPAIGN has been launched by a coalition of community-owned renewable energy hubs to distribute Scotland’s natural resources more evenly.

The Community Energy Coalition consists of six community-owned renewable energy projects and is calling for a new approach to retain sustainable energy in local communities, as well as the revenue.

Ahead of the launch of the campaign, the group will be attending the All-Energy exhibition - a renewable energy conference focused on reaching net zero at the SEC. The National will also be in attendance to report on the conference.

Community Land Scotland Chair Ailsa Raeburn said the campaign aims to keep revenue in local communities in Scotland while also benefiting the environment by switching to greener energy-producing solutions.

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She said: “Those communities that own renewables themselves are doing remarkable things.

“Whether that's setting their own tariff rates and being able to ignore huge market price hikes like on Eigg, or use the income to build houses as on Gigha, or support residents through the cost of living crisis as the community did in Strontian - it's clear that community owned energy addresses many of the problems seen in the 'renewables revolution.'

“Local people benefit directly from hydro, wind and solar developments deciding on scale and location.

“Very importantly schemes are locally owned, meaning that all profits are kept locally and used to provide services and facilities in that community.

”Instead of profits leaving the community or leaving Scotland, they stay local and do good.”

One example of the six-community-owned renewable energy projects is the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, which developed the first community-owned grid-connected wind turbine in 2004.

The National: The wind turbines in Gigha are owned by the local community

The four wind turbines are best known locally as the Dancing Ladies, which have over the years delivered hundreds of thousands of pounds in net revenue to the community. The money has helped fund housing developments and restorations.

REWIRED (Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, Orkney Renewable Energy Developments) is another example as it installed and managed a wind turbine that generates a net surplus of around £200,000 a year for the local community.

Point and Sandwick Trust scheme is another community-owned development, which built three wind turbines on common grazing’s land in Lewis back in 2015.

It is also the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK and generates £900,000 annually, which will rise to £2 million once all the loans which were taken out to fund the project are paid off.

There are also developments in hydro-renewable energy sources like the Sunart Community Renewables Ltd which was established in 2014.

The group developed a 40p/kwh micro-hydro on the Allt nan Cailleach in Strontian and the energy they generate goes directly into the grid the group is then paid in FiTs, a payment for the amount of electricity they have generated, and an export payment. 

All profits made from the energy generation from the hydro are paid to the local charity, the Sunart Community Company, and they have a body that decides which local projects to support with the funds.

The National:

Raeburn says more Scottish communities should have the opportunity to have access to their renewable energy source and should reap the benefits financially.

She said: “We know from the community ownership sector - be that in land, buildings, or renewables - that when people own local resources, they can really transform their local area.

“The case studies we are launching today give some examples but there are many more.

“We suggest this should be by ensuring local people and communities benefit through sharing the massive future profits from these new developments.

“More communities should be given the chance to acquire shares in the new developments that surround them.

“And where that isn't possible developers should invest in a new National Community Wealth Fund. This would be a fund that ensures those closest to developments are prioritised for reinvestment.

“But uniquely all communities across Scotland would also be access to the Fund to acquire their own stake in the renewables revolution - ensuring that communities in Glasgow and Dundee can also secure long-term lasting income to support and sustain them.

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“The Fund would also invest some of the profits for the very long term through the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund similar to that seen in Norway, where profits from the oil revolution were invested and now provide a huge source of income.

“Now is the time to be looking at these opportunities in detail and the public, community, and private sector to come together to develop a fund that ensures Scotland and its people benefit for many decades to come from the renewables revolution.”