If you follow renewable energy development in the UK you would also notice the recent growing opposition to wind power development. Recently culminating in 100 conservative MP’s along with a few Labour and Liberal democrats writing to David Cameron asking him to remove the subsidies the Wind industry receives and strengthening planning application laws. As recently uncovered by the Guardian it’s hard enough anyway to receive application permit at all and a lot of proposed projects simply end up being scrapped due to mainly political and local opposition.
But why is that, why is there so much opposition?
Let’s hop across the water and over to Germany, where this industry is thriving along with the solar industry this being despite both having less sun and wind than respectively Spain and the UK. In a matter of fact Spain looked to be leader in these two industries, it looked promising until the financial crisis really struck and the newly elected right wing government put a stop to that and pulled all investment at a time where everyone were beginning to look towards Spain. The same could be said about Portugal who had taken really important steps and looked likely to be a world leader in pioneering marine energy, but the same story here when the economy started to bite they pulled funds to it and the project collapsed.
But we’re back in Germany and trying to unearth the success, and it could not be more simple: Community owned projects. More than half of the renewable energy in Germany are owned by the people themselves, not the banks, not the big energy companies, not the big corporations. Perhaps we should ask ourselves if there would still be as big opposition to wind energy in the UK if it were the people that owned it? It was an idea that begun in Scandinavia in the 80’s but have so far progressed very little. It have printed a very strong green ideology in the German way of living. Community energy could restart the faith in investing and green growth in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece where the opportunities are massive and at a time where everyone have lost faith in banks this is the perfect opportunity.
In the UK there is small signs of it heading a little bit towards that direction, the first community wind farm opened in Cumbria in 2008 and the feed in tariff scheme introduced to encourage people to invest in and install solar panels have been popular, but as the government have scaled back the scheme, investments risks have stalled and threatened to kill of the industry in the UK. So far the UK have only just installed 1GW of solar power, but in Germany that number is 19GW. According to Jonathan Porritt the main difference is that the mentality of investing in community energy in Germany is a different world than that of the UK.
Please join the debate here or on twitter:@alorenzen , how can we encourage community energy in the UK or and is that the way to go?