Moving Beyond ‘Community Benefits’: Lewes Co-operatives Seek Share in Outside-Owned Wind Project
Community groups seek share in E.ON’s Rampion project
Erin Gill, Windpower Monthly, 02 July 2012, 3:21pm
Minority stake possible in wind farm off Sussex coast
A call to allow two renewable energy co-operatives to buy a minority stake in E.ON’s Rampion offshore wind project is under discussion,Windpower Offshore has learned.
Discussions have taken place between E.ON and two groups – Brighton Energy Co-operative and Ovesco, a renewable energy co-operative in the town of Lewes. “We’ve been having some meetings with them,” confirmed an E.ON spokesperson. “They have some interesting suggestions. However, we’ve not made any commitments yet.”
Public consultation is underway for the 665MW UK Round 3 project, planned for an area in the English Channel 13-23km off the coast of Sussex.
If a deal was struck, allowing a minority share in Rampion to be held by a community-run organisation, it would represent the first instance of community ownership of a UK offshore wind asset.
Community ownership is a viable option for Rampion, argues Will Cottrell, chair of Brighton Energy Co-operative. “It will be in our backyard, so it would be a good idea if the community owned part of it.”
From Cottrell’s perspective, the option of partial community ownership provides E.ON with the opportunity to move beyond formulaic approaches to ‘community benefit’. “Usually, ‘community benefit’ means the developer builds a village hall or something similar, but we don’t just want to be paid off.”
The two community energy groups envisage using revenue generated by a stake in Rampion to fund the creation of onshore, small-scale renewable energy projects in Sussex.