Set community renewables targets
Set targets of 2GW locally-owned renewable energy, of which at least 1GW is in full community ownership, by 2030, and extend targets beyond 2030.
Although the Scottish Government has provided strong and consistent support for local energy projects and achieved significant successes via the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), the 2020 target for ‘1GW Community and Locally Owned Energy’ was not met. This is partly due to factors outside of Scottish Government control, such as changes to the subsidy regime made by the UK Government. However, the failure to reach the 1GW target should trigger remedial action rather than any reduction in ambition.
Amending the target to ‘2GW locally-owned energy, of which at least 1GW is in full community ownership, by 2030’ would further strengthen the commitment; recognising the unique value of community-owned energy. The current target groups community-owned energy projects alongside projects owned and developed by farms and estates. However, community-owned projects provide far broader societal benefits, and are subject to unique challenges not experienced by for-profit developments led by local landowners.
Local authorities should also be supported to take an active role in community renewables projects in their area, as with the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative.
Further policy support for community leadership on decarbonisation is vital if we are to get back on track after missing the 1GW by 2020 target. The Committee on Climate Change has estimatedthat 60% of all decarbonisation measures require behaviour change, and community leadership is recognised as key to achieving and sustaining such a change. As we move towards joined up local energy systems, community support programmes for specific sectors (e.g. electricity, waste, heat, transport) should increasingly also be joined up to create a clear cross-sector plan for community leadership in decarbonisation. Vital to the success of community renewables is ensuring that all voices are heard within community projects, including marginalised voices.
A joined-up community strategy should be underpinned by new cross-cutting policies to support community leadership, such as an obligation on all relevant statutory bodies to allocate a minimum of 10% of their spend on reducing emissions to grassroots, locally-based partners, thereby supporting the growth of local infrastructure and community-led solutions. After a trial period this percentage could be increased for bodies where the measure has proved effective, and reductions or exceptions made for other bodies where required.
For further information:
- Consultation response to Draft Energy Strategy & Just Transition Plan, Community Energy Scotland, May 2023, https://communityenergyscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/ESJTP-SGConsultation-Response-CES-May2023.pdf