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April 8, 2024

Seven calls for action on renewables

The scale and pace at which the transition to renewable energy is happening is such that it’s hard to keep tabs on. Whether it’s onshore with new or expanded developments or offshore with its vast projected generation of 24GW (Scotland consumes 5GW) one thing is certain – Scotland is going to be a big net exporter of energy. And within this very dynamic market, some significant opportunities are opening up for communities. A coalition of community interests are intent on making sure that these are exploited to the full. Starting with seven calls for action to the Scottish Government.


CES, CLS, DTAS, SCA, Democratic Finance

A Fair Energy Deal for Scottish Communities Executive Summary

The drive to net zero by 2045 and expansion of renewable energy in Scotland provides a huge opportunity
to secure meaningful community benefits, support community-owned renewables and ensure that wealth
being generated from Scotland’s natural resources is shared fairly across Scotland. Community
understanding and participation in the energy sector is also essential to ensuring local buy-in and
appreciation of the need for the large-scale transformation of the UK electricity network required to ensure
our collective low carbon future.

We need strong government leadership and holistic thinking to support and expand existing community
renewables whilst making sure that renewable development by corporate developers and electricity
network operators builds community wealth within Scotland and delivers for the whole country. This Call
to Action proposes how we do that.

Community energy groups are already delivering across the Scottish Government’s national priorities.
Through local action they add value for money in areas including affordable housing, fuel poverty,
economic development, and health and wellbeing, often in locations that are hardest and most expensive
for local and national government to deliver in. If enabled, the community sector already has the solutions
that can ensure any investment will in turn strengthen people, place and wider climate change

Current ambition for new and repowered onshore wind generation, offshore wind, and associated
requirements for widespread electricity network upgrades and investment in transmission infrastructure
together present unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Government and industry have the
opportunity to think strategically about socialising benefit and leveraging investment to create
sustainable and thriving communities. Ultimately, without community buy-in and support, a timely
transition to net zero cannot be guaranteed.

Our Seven Calls to Action

 We call on the Scottish Government to take forward these seven actions:


  1. Accelerating growth in the community energy sector: the Scottish Government must acknowledge and encourage the distinct and significantly greater local impacts and benefits of community owned energy. A working group should be established to create a roadmap of support to accelerate progress in the sector. This should include a review of government ambition and how this ambition is delivered.


  1. Setting a wholly owned community energy target – 1GW by 2030: the Scottish Government should review the Community and Locally Owned Energy target and what is included in this within the redrafted Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan. Setting a wholly owned community energy target of 1GW by 2030 will demonstrate a clear ambition, provide certainty for local investors and should be reinforced with an extended target for 2045. A specific target for credible community shared ownership should also be created.


  1. Addressing opportunities and challenges arising from repowering: mass repowering of existing onshore wind generation will be a significant challenge in Scotland over the next 10 to 20 years, but also creates opportunities for communities. We call, therefore, for a short-life working group to be created with representation from Scottish Government, local authorities, private developers and community representatives to undertake a comprehensive review of the repowering process and ensure that these challenges and opportunities are identified and acted on. 


  1. Increasing uptake of shared ownership opportunities: the Scottish Government should review how shared ownership opportunities can be made more attractive and accessible to communities, including mandating the private sector to engage with communities at the earliest stage of any development, and introducing support programmes to enable communities to engage in shared ownership opportunities. The new shared ownership support framework proposed in the Onshore Wind Deal must be produced in consultation with the community sector. 


  1. Mandating developers to report on community benefits should be implemented by the Scottish Government to allow effective monitoring of good practice, social return on investment monitoring and public transparency of these arrangements. This should include an obligation for private developers to regularly update the Community Benefits Register. 


  1. Updating Good Practice Principles for Community Benefits: the Scottish Government must work urgently to review its onshore good practice guidance as well as to link this with the emerging offshore funds and Transmission Network Operator Community Benefit funds to ensure that community benefits payments are unrestricted and remain fair and proportionate. Community benefits should be indexed to the consumer price index to be in line with Contract for Difference strike prices. Where existing community benefit arrangements are in place, it is important these continue and are renewed when ownership changes or sites repower. 


  1. Creation of a Scottish community wealth fund: the Scottish Government and private sector partners should use a proportion of community benefits from onshore, offshore and transmission developments to create a Scottish community wealth fund to support the delivery of a just transition to Net Zero for all communities across Scotland, not just those located nearest to developments. Capacity building support for communities to access these and other funds should be included to support communities’ growth and agency in the energy system.