The following is an excerpt from Scene's Scottish Community Energy Policy Statement Draft consultation response, written by Vijay Bhopal.
It should be noted that both the author, and Scene as a whole, are highly appreciative of the strong commitment that the Scottish Government has shown to community energy, which is allowing the sector to grow. It is a privilege to be a part of that.
Having said, that we hold concerns over the community and locally owned energy target, and the way that it is being reached. We believe that it is time to take a step back and to contemplate HOW not IF we can reach that target.
Q) Are the ambitions of the Scottish Government clearly set out in this section when viewed alongside the Scottish Government’s existing Electricity Generation Policy Statement and our draft Heat Generation Policy Statement?
A) In the first two paragraphs of this Policy Statement the words community and communities are stated eight times. Thereafter the following is stated:
‘Our main ambition is to see 500MW of renewables in community and local ownership by 2020.’
We urge the government to ensure that ‘community energy’ is not used as a hold all term for ‘community and locally owned energy’. This is a highly misleading usage of terminology, as explained on page 13 where it is stated that only 15% of current progress towards the 500MW target is accounted for by community energy.
It is not clear whether the Scottish Government has ambitions of maintaining the current high levels of locally owned energy in its progress towards the targets. With the exception the first page, locally owned energy is not mentioned at all in this introduction and overview section, despite its accounting for over five sixths of current progress towards the 2020 target.
There is a disconnect between the stated main ambition of the government, and the content of the introduction and overview section of this Policy Statement. If the Governments deems community and locally owned energy to be part of the same agenda then this section, for transparency, should state ambitions for locally owned energy alongside community energy, so that the balance and complementarity is understood. If the government deems community and locally owned energy to be parts of separate agendas then the 500 MW target should be decoupled with immediate effect, to the benefit of the community energy agenda.
The question that arises is ‘what cost to community energy, to the gain of local energy, is acceptable to the government in reaching the 500MW 2020 target?’. Without a stated answer to this question, the Scottish Government’s ambitions are unclear.