The IEA-RETD and Ricardo AEA hosted a workshop on the initial findings from the current FIN-COMMUNITY project analysing whether community projects have higher or lower costs for building and operating wind and solar projects compared to commercial projects of a similar size.
The FIN-COMMUNITY study is analysing the main costs (development and planning costs, construction costs, operating costs and taxation costs) in five countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany and the UK) which each have differing policies and support for community energy.
The discussion focused around four main themes:
- Development costs
- Construction costs
- Negotiating deals to sell electricity
Main takeaways and questions for policy makers
- What is community energy policy all about? Is it about subsidising projects in locations where commercial developers would not invest? Or about unblocking supply constraints for community investors wanting to build in favourable locations?
- Who is community energy meant to benefit? Local investors, project developers, communities?
- Key is consistency in stability of support schemes with no threats of (retroactive) changes
- Grants and low-interest loans can help to overcome risks during the development phase
- ’How-to’-guides can help to reduce development costs, as can standardised agreements and models. However, communities probably benefit most by having a professional project manager who has experience of delivering similar schemes. Public sector bodies in some jurisdictions offer this support for free.
- Consideration should be given to having Government backed banks supporting the sector, e.g. acting as a secondary, junior lender
- How to build a good reputation for community-led projects?
The final report, along with key recommendations for policy makers is anticipated in mid-October 2015.
For more information on this project, please visit http://iea-retd.org/archives/ongoing/fin-community