The world’s climate is changing partly as a result of human activities, including use of fossil fuels and the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Most governments have accepted that steps must be taken to mitigate climate change, and many local, national and international initiatives, including the generation of electricity from renewable resources such as sun, wind, waves, tidal and hydro, have been introduced to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases.
Scottish Government Renewable Targets
The Scottish Government has set a target whereby total electricity consumption in Scotland should be matched by the quantity of electricity generated from renewable resources by 2020. In addition, it wishes to see 500MW from local/community renewable energy projects, and has expressed strong support for community-owned projects. The Scottish Parliament has unanimously passed an all-party resolution supporting the development of the renewable energy industry.
Community ownership of wind turbines in Scotland, for example on the islands of Gigha, Tiree and Westray, has demonstrated that significant revenues can be generated for local communities.
Other European countries have a well-developed tradition of community-owned enterprises, particularly in the renewable energy sector. In Denmark and Germany, 86% and 56% respectively of electricity generation from wind comes from locally and community-owned enterprises. In Scotland it is a mere 3%, but growing, helped by funding from Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Big Lottery and others, and technical assistance from Community Energy Scotland. Above all, it is the initiative and enterprise generated by members of local communities that enable local economies to keep a greater share of benefits from the exploitation of renewable resources, and thus contribute to a more sustainable future, in particular for fragile island economies.