18 October 2018

Research pick: Power from the people - "Community renewables in the UK – a clash of cultures?"

Emissions reduction and decarbonisation targets are two common phrases on the political agenda of governments around the world. Jelte Harnmeijer of the University of Edinburgh, David Toke of the University of Aberdeen, and Bill Slee of the James Hutton Institute, in Aberdeen discuss these concepts in the context of UK community renewables policy and uptake and the differences between Scotland, England and Wales.

They suggest that until very recently, most of the community renewable capacity (in terms of megawatts of electrical power) has been seen in Scotland rather than England and Wales. This, the team explains, is perhaps due to the more egalitarian approaches taken in organising community renewables in Scotland, whereas an individualistic approach has been adopted in England and Wales. The presence of “communitarian” local institutions in Scotland that are not seen in England and Wales might underpin this difference.

However, the team says, trends towards community renewables policy are moving towards a more hierarchical modality. They point out that governments are now stressing the advantages of partnering community renewable initiatives with commercial renewable energy schemes. Their study points to how “community energy might present a clear example of a domain that benefits from bespoke, fit-for-purpose, regional policymaking that furthermore leaves appropriate space for local institutional innovation.”

Harnmeijer, J., Toke, D. and Slee, B. (2018) ‘Community renewables in the UK – a clash of cultures?’, Int. J. Technology Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.99–120.

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