Promoting community renewable energy in a corporate energy world.
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STRACHAN, P.A., COWELL, R., ELLIS, G., SHERRY-BRENNAN, F. and TOKE, D. 2015. Promoting community renewable energy in a corporate energy world. Sustainable development [online], 23(2), pages 96-109. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sd.1576
Small-scale, decentralized and community-owned renewable energy is widely acknowledged to be a desirable feature of low carbon futures, but faces a range of challenges in the context of conventional, centralized energy systems. This paper draws on transition frameworks to investigate why the UK has been an inhospitable context for community-owned renewables and assesses whether anything fundamental is changing in this regard. We give particular attention to whether political devolution, the creation of elected governments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has affected the trajectory of community renewables. Our analysis notes that devolution has increased political attention to community renewables, including new policy targets and support schemes. However, these initiatives are arguably less important than the persistence of key features of socio-technical regimes: market support systems for renewable energy and land-use planning arrangements that systemically favour major projects and large corporations, and keep community renewables to the margins. There is scope for rolling out hybrid pathways to community renewables, via joint ownership or through community benefit funds, but this still positions community energy as an adjunct to energy pathways dominated by large, corporate generation facilities.
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