Community energy conference in Glasgow

Locogen was delighted to sponsor the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) annual conference on 18 and 19 April at the Corinthian in Glasgow. It was an inspirational two days with lots of presentations, workshops and discussions on all aspects of local and community energy.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government’s minister for business innovation and energy, gave a keynote address that attracted much interest, with the inclusion of the launch of the new CARES funding package. Mr Wheelhouse announced that CARES is now “open for business” with up to £5 million of funding available.

Since 2013 the CARES scheme has helped councils, community groups, non-profit organisations and small and medium sized businesses get more than 200 renewable energy projects started, with more than £35 million of funding awarded.

The new funding package is designed to build on these successes and be more flexible in supporting the transition to a more localised, community energy approach. Funds will be awarded via quarterly funding rounds, the first of which opened on 18 April.

The new CARES funding package is organised into three streams to support community energy projects. These are:

  1. Enablement Grants – up to £25k to support feasibility studies, investigate shared ownership opportunities or maximise local benefits in community energy projects.
  2. Development Loans – up to £150k to take projects from feasibility through to the procurement stage.
  3. Innovation Fund – up to £150k to support innovative projects from business case to long-term development support.

You can read more about the CARES funding package here.

Day one - community energy project stories

Day one of the conference then continued with some truly inspirational ‘Project Stories’ from around Scotland. These included Arrochar Community Hydro, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, Smart Fintry, Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub, Glasgow Housing Association and Falkirk Low Carbon Hub. Ross Jones then talked about Local Energy Plans. The conference went on to look at ‘Emerging Models for Local Energy,’ with presentations including:

  • Global opportunities in the new energy transition - Jenny Carson, Delta Energy
  • Valuing flexibility in community energy - Alastair Martin, Flexitricity
  • Building the capacity of communities to partner in the delivery of the smart energy revolution - Gillian Wilson, Community Energy Scotland
  • New delivery models for community energy - Nigel Cornwall, Cornwall Energy

The afternoon saw some excellent breakout sessions on Delivery Models for Community Energy, Planning for Success, Community Benefit Funds and Shared Ownership, before a networking reception in the evening - sponsored by Locogen.

Day two - ideas into action for community energy

The theme of day two of the conference was ‘Ideas into Action,’ with a number of talks on available funding and support, along with a session on “Opportunities for Communities to be Involved in Innovative Local Energy Systems” from Anna Kynaston, Head of Low Carbon Support Unit at the Scottish Government. This included an in-depth look at the Scottish Energy Strategy and Onshore Wind Policy, exploring the opportunities for community energy in future energy systems.

Afternoon breakout sessions included ‘Developing Local Energy Projects’ and a consultation event on good practice principles in community benefit. Our very own Ian McLean led a session on the financing of refurbished wind turbines and Highlands and Islands Enterprise discussed community empowerment and local energy projects.

The Scottish Government has some challenging targets for community energy in its energy strategy and it was great to see some of the mechanisms being put in place to achieve these goals.

We were proud to be able to contribute to an excellent conference and our thanks go to everyone at Local Energy Scotland for delivering an outstanding event.