ENERGY PROSPECTS CO-OPERATIVE LTD
Funding Community Owned Renewables
Over the past year or two it has become increasingly clear to Energy4All that although there is considerable demand for community ownership of renewables, the number of suitable projects is very limited. One crucial reason for this is that our share offers have always been launched only when there is a definite project to invest in i.e. when there is full planning permission. We are frequently approached by landowners keen on community ownership but as we do not have the resources necessary to gain planning consent, we are unable to take on these projects. As a result, community ownership has been very limited in this country. It is to address this problem that we are launching Energy Prospects Co-operative.
Energy Prospects aim is to raise capital to enable more community renewable energy projects of the sort promoted by Energy4All to happen, and aims, from the fees it charges to successful projects, to deliver a reasonable income return to EP Members.
Progress has been slow on developing community owned renewable energy co-operatives in the UK, unlike in other parts of Europe where this is a common ownership structure. The major obstacle in the UK is the substantial cost of seeking planning permission and the unpredictability of the outcome, with a high risk of rejection. Commercial developers and operators of wind farms manage risk by running a portfolio of projects on the basis that some will succeed and some will fail; but generally a community is unable to take such a risk on a single project, so only projects with grant funding or an altruistic landowner have tended to move forward.
The overall objective of Energy Prospects is to address this issue by taking a portfolio approach to community Projects, enabling communities to adopt the approach of a mainstream commercial developer, thus spreading the risks involved, and making community ownership of renewable energy generation more available to communities in the UK.