Renewables offer cash boost for local communities - think tank

| 16th September 2010
Installing solar panels

Local communties could benefit from funding for solar power

If climate change isn't enough motivation, the increasing financial benefits from renewable energy could pave the way for lower carbon lifestyles, a leading think tank has claimed

Writing in The Ecologist, Reg Platt, a researcher with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), says renewable energy could not only help people reduce their emissions but also provide a much needed cash boost to local communities.

The government’s Feed-In Tariff introduced earlier this year, means ‘households and organisations can get paid for generating electricity’ via renewable technology, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Platt argues ‘solar panels on pubs could generate around £15 million, village halls £10 million, community centres £8 million, churches and other religious buildings £25 million, schools £35 million and swimming pools £3 million’, through the Feed-In Tariff. In addition the buildings will be able to use the electricity for free and sell anything they don’t use back to the grid.

Up until now, renewable technology has been seen as too expensive for homeowners and organisations, some having to wait 35 years to reap the rewards via reduced electricity bills. However, with the Feed-In Tariff it appears ‘renewables have suddenly become an attractive financial proposition’.

Retailers recognise this opportunity and are now offering a vast range of new innovative renewable energy products for homes and communities. To address high up front costs many financing options are also becoming available.

Despite initial scepticism, the climate change debate remains heated and recent research shows renewables are popular. According to an IPPR survey, almost half of us agree strongly or very strongly that we should be generating 15 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2015. An Ipsos Mori poll found 88 per cent of people are favourable towards solar power.

Platt writes, ‘Now more than ever we need to find alternative ways of engaging people in reducing their carbon emissions rather than asking them to do it just because of climate change. Renewable technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels, may be just the answer we are looking for.’

He continues, ‘backed up by the Feed-In Tariff, [renewables] present a major opportunity for getting people engaged in reducing their emissions and we would all be wise to make the most of it.’

How to make money from fighting climate change
Renewable energy presents a unique opportunity for getting communities engaged in reducing their emissions - and benefiting financially - says Reg Platt of IPPR
Europe shows how local communities can make money from renewables
Kate Hathway from the local communities charity Urban Forum says we should look to Europe for tips on successful community renewable energy projects
'Privileged' opposition holding back wind farm development
Onshore wind sites being ignored because of threat of local resistance as analysis points to unfulfilled potential of community-driven projects
'Street champions' inspire communities to adopt low-carbon lifestyles
A pioneering social marketing project in Richmond and Ham is using neighbourhood networks to improve energy efficiency in the borough
UK likely to miss legal 2020 renewable energy target
Energy secretary Chris Huhne focuses on 2050 targets in first major policy statement but admits the UK faces 'short-term challenges' to meet targets for renewable energy

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