The Future of Community Energy in Wales
With support from Welsh Government, Community Energy Wales (CEW) have appointed the Welsh Economy Research Unit (WERU) at Cardiff Business School to look at what needs to happen in Wales to enable more communities to generate their own energy.
Communities in Wales have the potential to become stronger, more resilient, and self-reliant by generating their own energy, using it efficiently, and directing the net income to regenerate their communities. Whilst community energy schemes could also contribute to Wales renewable energy and climate change targets, it is the local impact which of greatest significance. However communities face many challenges in realising this potential and Community Energy Wales is keen for the lessons learnt from the Welsh Governments Ynnir Fro programme to identify the ways in which these can be overcome in determining the future of community energy in Wales.
“We are working closely with Welsh Government to ensure that schemes such as Ynni Anafon Energy have a greater chance of success in Wales. This is a prime example of what communities in Wales can achieve”, said Chris Blake, Chair of Community Energy Wales.
The organisation plans to build a £1.25million Hydro Scheme that will generate enough power for 230 homes and generate £200,000 of revenue; a significant investment for a small community which is unlikely to have occurred had the local community not come together to harness their local natural resources. The income from the scheme will support the regeneration of the local area and local assets through the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company.
“Where this can be repeated across Wales we can significantly address many of the social challenges we face, such as unemployment and deprivation, and is one of the reasons why we appointed WERU to carry out this research”, said Chris Blake – Chair of CEW
The Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School was appointed, following a competitive tender process, which generated significant interest from both practitioners and academic research institutions across Wales.
“In addition to their excellent research credentials the research team at WERU have a long standing interest in both Renewables and Community Energy. It was they who identified the increased job creation potential for micro hydro in Wales, and their previous research and interest in the area placed them in an ideal position to explore the future for Community Energy in Wales” said Rob Proctor, Business Manager for Community Energy Wales.
The research team will be working alongside CEW to produce an audit into the current state of the community energy sector in Wales, a comparison with the sector in Scotland and England, what barriers there are to the take up of these schemes and a look at scenarios up to 2025 based on business as usual and a number of other scenarios which will be assessed against their ability to meet the Welsh Future Generations Act’s goals.
“This research will enable CEW to assess where the Community energy sector is in Wales and develop a strategy for ensuring that we create the right environment in Wales to support a vibrant sector”, said Max Munday of WERU.
Community Energy Wales will be organising a series of engagement events during the course of the year which will explore how best to take the sector forwards in different parts of Wales. The first of these events will be taking place during Community Energy Fortnight: 5th – 20th September 2015 and those wishing to contribute to this research can do so either by attending the event, via the website or by contacting Robert Proctor, Business Development Manager, Community Energy Wales/Ynni Cymunedol Cymru on Ffon/Tel: 02920 190260 Web: www.communityenergywales.org.uk
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