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Community renewable schemes in Scotland: struggling to achieve targets?

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Reported growth in Scotland’s community renewable schemes does not reflect the whole picture, according to a project manager at Savills Energy.

Gregory Dix says figures released earlier this year by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), which put Scotland on track to achieve its community renewable targets, are too reliant on farms and estates, which account for 33% of the current total. A further 31% is also accounted for under housing association developments and local business developments.

The report identified that, in June 2012, Scotland was on track to meet its target of 500MW of community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020, with more than 40% operational last year.

‘These are impressive figures, but they are slightly muddled when one takes into account the fact that under the real definition of ‘community’ from the report the total capacity installed is only 26MW,’ Dix reveals.

‘Community schemes are, in fact, very challenging to set up, particularly while investors are still jittery about long-term returns on energy investments. This explains why, when you drill down into the figures, you find the number of genuine community projects is actually very small.’

Another EST report published in February states a further 265MW of projects have been consented, but some 167MW of this is accounted for by one development in the Shetlands.

‘The Scottish government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) is trying to help ensure that funding is available at all stages of project development which, if properly used, could start to open up many more viable and feasible projects on a true community basis,’ Dix adds.