An energy consortium has joined forces with community energy group Energy4All to push for a community stake in Scotland’s offshore wind developments as a new ScotWind leasing round gets under way.
The Falck Renewables, Ørsted and BlueFloat Energy consortium, which has applied to build floating windfarms, has signed an exclusive memorandum of understanding with Energy4All “to co-operate in the delivery and execution of a community ownership scheme”.
This will start with a public consultation and the design of a new framework allowing residents of Scotland and Scottish communities to share the financial benefits of the new sites.
Falck Renewables has a 15-year track record of working with Energy4All, and successfully set up eight co-ops at its Scottish onshore wind farms, enabling thousands of people to buy a stake in their local wind farm.
Set up in 2002 to allow communities to own and operate their own renewable energy schemes, Energy4All now supports more than 30 successful community energy co-operatives in the UK with 17,000 members, and has raised over £80m from its members to invest in wind, solar, hydro and bio-mass schemes.
Richard Dibley, managing director of Falck Renewables Wind, said: “Our ethos has always been to share the value generated from our onshore wind farms as widely as we can with local communities. For us it really makes sense to extend that approach to offshore wind and our MOU with Energy4All is the first step in understanding how involving local communities in owning offshore developments might work.
“Local people own a stake in eight of our Scottish wind farms through co-operatives and the community of Fintry also own a turbine at our Earlsburn Wind Farm which we operate on their behalf. These innovative schemes have evolved over time but have ensured that communities across the country have benefited from onshore wind energy and we are now committed to extending that to offshore wind.”
Marna McMillin, CEO of Energy4All, said: “Energy4All is thrilled to be partnering in this exciting new venture for community owned wind energy in Scotland. Following the launch, capital raise and operation of eight community co-operatives with stakes in Falck wind farms, and joint wind projects with other developers, this is an opportunity for us to build on that knowledge and experience to take community ownership to another level.”
Carlos Martin, CEO of BlueFloat Energy, said: “Offshore wind has the potential to benefit local communities in many different ways but we are keen to explore how we can open up these large-scale projects to direct economic participation from local people. We are also adopting this approach in our offshore wind project development activities in other countries where it has received a fair amount of interest and positive reaction from local communities.”
Duncan Clark, head of UK region for Orsted, said: “We are committed to delivering a green energy transformation that benefits local communities where we construct and operate our offshore wind farms. To this end, we are delighted to have agreed this MOU with Energy4All to see how we can build on this approach in Scotland.”
The consultation is set to begin in north-east Scotland this month to gather the views of communities on how they can be best served by offshore wind farms in terms of potential investment schemes or community ownership opportunities.
The consultation will build on initial discussions on community engagement in offshore wind at a March 2021 Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy sponsored event organized by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) which resulted in an SCDI report Harnessing Value for Scotland from Offshore Wind Development