Scotland’s wealth of natural resources and commitment to a sustainable low carbon future present a significant opportunity for achieving our social, economic, and industrial growth ambitions.
2018 proved yet another record year for Scotland with renewable electricity generation in Scotland up 6.1% on 2017, with renewable sources capable of meeting 74.6% of Scotland’s demand. The equivalent of powering all households in Scotland for more than 2.5 years. We want to ensure that Scotland’s long and positive association with renewable energy continues to go from strength to strength.
Key to this is our people, and the communities in which we all live. Empowering communities to engage in the decisions affecting their future, making their voices heard is a priority for the Scottish Government, and we are committed to ensuring that they fully participate in, and benefit from Scotland’s low carbon transition. Shared ownership of onshore renewable energy developments can play an important role in helping us achieve this aim. That is why we have set our ambition for at least half of newly consented schemes to have an element of shared ownership by 2020. We continue to facilitate and support community involvement in renewable energy through our Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and Energy Investment Fund (EIF) programmes, and have set targets of 1 GW of community and locally owned energy by 2020 and 2 GW by 2030.
Shared ownership can help promote stronger relationships between local communities and the renewables sector, and deliver lasting economic and social benefits to communities across Scotland. It continues to be our view that successful renewable energy projects will be those which treat communities as active and positive partners, and we expect to see engagement for all scales of development above microgeneration.
There will also be scope in the future for community involvement in the repowering of existing renewable energy developments. The potential to repower sites provides an opportunity for Scotland to continue to work towards our renewable energy targets through maximising site availability and enhancing cost competitiveness. We would encourage renewable energy businesses to consider shared ownership opportunities in any early repowering plans.
I am grateful for the way in which Scotland’s renewables industry is working with us to embed shared ownership as one of the key offers made by a renewable energy business developing a project in Scotland. It is important also that early discussions between the renewable energy business and the community are conducted in a positive manner, and that all sides are aware of their role and responsibilities. The Good Practice Principles provide a good starting point in helping to understand what’s involved
Ultimately, the final decision on whether to accept any offer rests with the community, and the Good Practice Principles provide details on the key factors to consider, and where to assess additional information and support to help inform that decision.
This document supersedes the 2015 document and is intended to function as a valuable tool for renewable energy businesses, communities, local authorities, and other stakeholders involved in the development of renewable energy.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Steering Group who helped govern the Good Practice Principles Review process, and all those who input their views and experiences through workshops, and our public consultation during the winter of 2018/19.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands