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Communities empower wind

Community power ownership increases the acceptance of wind farms, according to the World Wind Energy Association’s (WWEA) Community Power definition study.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

WWEA says empirical studies have underlined the contribution of community ownership models of wind farms to social acceptance. A comparative study conducted in Germany by researchers from the University of Amsterdam reached the conclusion that the social acceptance of wind power is very high in general, and even higher when community members are directly involved.

In fact 62% of the residents at the community owned wind farm expressed a positive or very positive opinion on the wind farm in their neighbourhood and only 1% had a negative or very negative attitude. In the case of the non-community owned wind farm, most people (47%) expressed a neutral opinion, while 26% were positive or very positive and 27% were negative or very negative.

Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General, says: "If we want to reach a 100% renewable energy supply worldwide with wind energy as a cornerstone, we have to make sure that the local communities actively support this endeavour and that they benefit from the wind farms in their vicinity. Community Power ownership models offer an excellent approach to achieving this objective."

Kris Stevens, Chair of the WWEA Community Power working group and Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, adds: "We know now that Community Power is of crucial importance. Some jurisdictions, like in Ontario where I am living, have even taken the lead in setting up special support schemes for Community Power. We need more of such policies around the world in order to empower local communities."

Community power definition

A project can be defined as Community Power if at least two of the following three criteria are fulfilled:

  1. Local stakeholders own the majority or all of a project – A local individual or a group of local stakeholders, whether they are farmers, cooperatives, independent power producers, financial institutions, municipalities, schools, etc., own, immediately or eventually, the majority or all of a project;
  2. Voting control rests with the community-based organisation – The community-based organisation made up of local stakeholders has the majority of the voting rights concerning the decisions taken on the project; and/or
  3. The majority of social and economic benefits are distributed locally – The major part or all of the social and economic benefits are returned to the local community.

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