May 12, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Community Shared Ownership of Renewable Energy Projects Comes to Ireland

Release Date: 12-05-2016

Word Count: 658

 

Community Shared Ownership of Renewable Energy Projects Comes to Ireland

 

Energy Co-operatives Ireland (ECI) is pleased to announce details of a clever concept in positive collaboration between organised local communities in Ireland, and energy suppliers.

 

Best described as a “progressive shared ownership equity model”, local groups will now have the option of taking equity in developer-led energy projects in their area.

 

According to Cormac Walsh (ECI); “this important development means organised communities can now benefit directly from approved large-scale renewable projects, without taking on any up-front planning, regulatory and licencing financial risks. In the case of PV (solar electricity generation) developments, landowners too can benefit from rental incomes considerably higher than the national average per hectare of agricultural land”.

 

The Concept

 

In simple terms, select developers will provide 100% of all the up-front costs relating to planning, grid access, design, environmental assessments, etc. It is only when full planning is achieved that the community is asked for their investment. Industry estimates suggest a possible return on investment of up to 6% per annum from viable PV projects. The exact percentage ownership by a community will vary depending on the size of the project but we believe it will be in line with best practice in Scotland currently. There will also be a free gratis percentage figure of the project diverted to the local energy co-operative at the very centre of the development. This regular payment will last for the lifetime of the project and should be used specifically to benefit those local people in fuel poverty and for whom would not be in any financial position to participate directly in this initiative.

 

As part of the service options to energy co-op’s, ECI negotiated a deal with an Irish based specialist renewable energy company in the PV sector (solar electricity generation)., this company is already involved in large-scale PV projects throughout Europe. Together with ECI, they are now actively seeking community partnerships for solar parks in Ireland, of the scale of 5MW.

 

A number of established energy co-op’s are already working with ECI on possible PV projects based on the equity share model, and ECI believe more community co-op’s will be attracted to the concept as the roll out of large-scale PV projects proceeds in Ireland.

 

“The contrast between the offer of shared community ownership being made by solar developers participating in this scheme is in stark contrast to other existing industry models. We are delighted that finally the idea of true local participation in the transition to low carbon has gained traction with some developers.

 

We hope others in the renewable energy sector will now follow,” Says Cormac Walsh.

 

Commenting on the concept, Brendan Halligan (Chairman of the Institute of International Affairs) stated “this initiative by ECI is precisely what the renewable energy world needed.  It puts ownership in the hands of communities just as the dairy coops did over a hundred years ago and it will have the same transformative effect on rural Ireland. It will also enable Ireland to fully exploit the amazing advances taking place right now in solar technology and to become a world leader in solar PV. I heartily commend ECI on its new business model and wish it every success”.

 

About Energy Co-operatives Ireland (ECI)

 

Energy Co-operatives Ireland (ECI) is a co-operative renewable energy consultancy, promoting community access to the many benefits of renewable energy. Its membership comprises of renewable energy experts, experienced co-operative regulations advisers, expert project managers, financial advisers and a communications team. ECI supports co-operatives that have as wide a community membership as possible and seek to distribute benefits to the community as a whole.

 

ECI is the federative body in Ireland for Renewable Energy Systems Co-operatives Europe (REScoop).

 

To date, ECI has helped establish four progressive renewable energy co-operatives in Ireland, and have plans to announce more community groups later this year.

 

For further information, please contact Cormac Walsh

Email: cormac.walsh@energyco-ops.ie

Phone: 086 6784063