WWEA highlights the importance of Community Power and publishes Community Power definition
Study reveals that Community Power ownership significantly increases the acceptance of wind farms
Bonn (WWEA) – The Fukushima tragedy has highlighted the urgent need to increase wind power and other renewable energy sources to transform the global energy system. In light of such prospects, Community Power is increasingly being viewed as an essential framework for developing such decentralized forms of energy.
Empirical studies have underlined the contribution of community ownership models of wind farms (Community Power) to social acceptance. A comparative study conducted in Germany by researchers from the University of Amsterdam reached the conclusion that the social acceptance of wind power is very high in general, and even higher when community members are directly involved.
In fact 62 % of the residents at the community owned wind farm expressed a positive or very positive opinion on the wind farm in their neighbourhood and only 1 % had a negative or very negative attitude. In the case of the non-community owned wind farm, most people (47 %) expressed a neutral opinion, while 26 % were positive or very positive and 27 % were negative or very negative.
Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General: “If we want to reach a 100 % renewable energy supply worldwide with wind energy as a cornerstone, we have to make sure that the local communities actively support this endeavour and that they benefit from the wind farms in their vicinity. Community Power ownership models offer an excellent approach to achieving this objective.”
In light of the strategic importance of this topic, WWEA created a working group on Community Power. On the event of the 2nd Annual Community Power Conference in Toronto (Canada) last autumn, the working group members met to discuss the definition of Community Power.
Kris Stevens, Chair of the WWEA Community Power working group and Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Assocition: “We know now that Community Power is of crucial importance. Some jurisdictions, like in Ontario where I am living, have even taken the lead in setting up special support schemes for Community Power. We need more of such policies around the world in order to empower local communities.”
The members of the working group, representing all continents, agreed on the importance of defining Community Power in order to give clear guidance to policymakers as well as to others involved in renewable energy and the general public. They agreed on the potential of Community Power to further accelerate the deployment of wind and other renewable energy technologies. It was also mentioned that Community Power can lead to a more democratic energy supply structure.
The WWEA Community Power working group agreed on the following definition:
A project can be defined as Community Power if at least two of the following three criteria are fulfilled:
1. Local stakeholders own the majority or all of a project
A local individual or a group of local stakeholders, whether they are farmers, cooperatives, independent power producers, financial institutions, municipalities, schools, etc., own, immediately or eventually, the majority or all of a project.
2. Voting control rests with the community-based organization:
The community-based organization made up of local stakeholders has the majority of the voting rights concerning the decisions taken on the project.
3. The majority of social and economic benefits are distributed locally:
The major part or all of the social and economic benefits are returned to the local community.