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Scottish Communities Reaping Benefits Of Renewables

Green energy evidently has survived its reputation of being too expensive for the amount of power it provides, especially when compared to fossil fuels. Like any growing technology, its cost has gone down as demand has increased.

But who thought wind farms, hydroelectric projects and other renewable energy technologies could actually make money for the communities that use them?

The government of Scotland doesn’t just think it, it says it knows it. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says communities in the UK country earned more than 10 million pounds, or nearly $15 million, from onshore green energy technology in 2015, and predicts that the benefits won’t stop any time soon.

In a statement, Ewing said that “2015 was a bumper year for community energy, and 2016 can be just as exciting.”

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The minister’s statement laid out Scotland’s other green energy achievements, which include 154 projects listed during the year on the register of renewables that led to the paybacks to communities that established them.

Ewing also boasted that Scotland was five years early in meeting its target of local ownership of renewable generators. The goal had been a capacity of 500 megawatts by 2020, but this year it reached a level of 508 megawatts. In fact, in the past eight years, renewable electricity capacity has grown at an average annual rate of 660 megawatts.

“Community energy can cut costs for consumers, create new revenue streams to transform communities and play a leading role in tackling climate change,” Ewing said. “Over £10 million a year from onshore renewable projects is now going straight back into people’s hands, empowering people to make the most of their own local resources.”

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In fact, Scottish nationalists used the country’s onshore renewable energy policies, as well as its revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, as an argument in favor of independence. On Sept. 18, however, Scotland’s voters chose not to break its 307-year-old status as a country in the United Kingdom, though Ewing said it still leads its fellow members in green energy.

“Scotland leads the way in the UK on local and community ownership of renewable energy, and we are providing the best possible environment to help ambitious community groups reap the benefits,” Ewing said. “I want to see even more communities take decisions about their local energy system and to have an economic stake in new developments.”

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Scotland’s local energy manager, Chris Morris, expressed satisfaction at the amount of money the country’s communities are reaping from their investment in green energy, and said his office is proud of its work to help develop the projects.

“We provide a range of support through the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme to help communities to maximize the local benefit from renewable energy,” Morris said, “whether that’s support to a community to build their own small hydropower scheme or help them to invest in a commercial wind farm.”

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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