Financing Community Energy Case Studies : Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative

Cairns, Iain and Hannon, Matthew and Braunholtz-Speight, Tim and McLachlan, Carly and Mander, Sarah and Manderson, Edward and Sharmina, Maria and Hardy, Jeff (2020) Financing Community Energy Case Studies : Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative. [Report]

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    Abstract

    This report presents the first of four case studies of UK community energy organisations conducted during 2018/19. These will later be included as part of a synthesis briefing alongside findings from a series of sectoral-level interviews. The case study makes use of a combination of qualitative (e.g. interviews, organisation reports) and quantitative (e.g. financial reports) data. Key summary lessons include: The ability of community energy organisations to raise community finance is underpinned by government subsidies (e.g. feed-in-tariff). By providing a long-term guaranteed revenue stream, they de-risk the energy project. Their removal presents investors with a less attractive proposition, potentially closing down an important stream of finance. Local authorities are a key facilitator of community energy projects. For example, they may purchase power from community energy organisations, as well as provide space for power generation. The latter is highly dependent on the extent to which the procurement process and council leadership values locally supplied, low-carbon energy from not-for-profit organisations. Intermediaries are a key provider of economic, technical, social and political capital to community energy organisations. A key example are project developers such as Energy4All. Choices around legal structure have an important bearing on the financing and governance of a community energy organisation, including the: * Extent to which 'community benefit' is incorporated into the legal entity. * Level and type of finance it can raise. * Degree of risk it exposes its investors to. * Way in which control is exerted over the organisation's strategic direction and who wields this power.