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Businesses and communities should be given funding for renewables

MPs claim local schemes could provide cheaper electricity for communities if handed the funding to build medium-sized projects

A new report issued by the Energy and Climate Change Committee states that schools, businesses and communities should receive financial support in order to install renewable energy technology.

Research revealed that although generous subsidies are in place to assist small and large green energy projects, medium-size initiatives are not entitled to a comparable state subsidy. This means that schemes aimed at producing between ten and 50 megawatts are missing out.

Potential for cheaper green energy

Were funding to be allocated to medium-size projects, the latter could contribute a significant proportion of cheaper energy, although the biggest solar and wind farms would continue to generate the largest amount.

The MPs called for the government to introduce funding as well as a package of practical measures taking into consideration finances, planning, advice and grid access.

Green Investment Bank could provide funding

According to the MPs, the government’s Green Investment Bank could provide seed funding and project development cash. This would cover expenses such as feasibility studies, permits for the grid and other factors that would mitigate the risk of launching new schemes.

Alan Whitehead, an MP on the committee, said: “Encouraging schools, businesses and local authorities to generate some of their electricity locally can bring big benefits to communities and the UK as a whole.

“Businesses can reduce their energy overheads, locals can potentially benefit from cheaper electricity or heat, and councils can use projects to tackle fuel poverty, cut costs and reduce carbon emissions.”

What’s more, medium size power plants could also help to boost energy security, added the politician. Local schemes could go a long way to balancing out peaks and lows in electricity supply and demand by storing energy when there is a surplus being generated.

The government should also do more to encourage local authorities to identify suitable areas for renewable energy development, the report claims.

Supporting smaller renewables projects ‘would cut reliance on big six’

Donna Hume, Friends of the Earth campaigner, commented: “Supporting medium-sized clean energy schemes would reduce our reliance on the big six energy firms who have kept the UK hooked on gas imports for decades – the very climate-changing fuel that’s driving up our bills.

“Ministers should use the current Energy Bill and forthcoming community energy strategy to give more people a stake in the UK’s huge clean energy resource, from solar arrays to district heating schemes.”

Energy secretary Ed Davey has issued a paper proposing community benefits for areas which agree to host wind farms. These could include a new sports hall and free home improvements to lower energy bills.

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