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Co-operative energy benefits highlighted

Growing numbers of local communities are launching their own renewable energy co-operatives in an effort to slash the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Guardian reported.

Green energy co-ops are now one of the fastest growing parts of the UK co-operative sector having grown by 24 per cent in the past four years.

Mark Wells is a director of the newly launched Sheffield Renewables co-op, which aims to build a hydroelectric generator on the River Don that will be the largest community-owned hydro scheme in England providing enough electricity to power 80 homes.

The project is being funded by a share offer, which aims to raise £200k and which will pay individual investors up to 3 per cent interest.

Simon Gilhooly who helped launch the Green Energy Nayland project in Suffolk last year agreed that renewable energy projects are a great way to get the issue of climate change onto the agenda.

In the first year of their operation, Gilhooly estimates that the school’s solar panels has saved around £1,000 in energy bills.

The scheme has also generated an income of over £4,000 through the government’s Feed-in Tariff, meaning members who bought shares in the scheme are being paid a healthy level of interest on their investment.

All of the UK’s renewable energy co-ops have been funded through share issues that target individual ethically-minded investors.

However, the sector contributes only a minute amount of energy to the National Grid and scaling up their numbers remains an uphill task.

One way that co-ops have been able to bypass bureaucracy is to team up with existing windfarm developers.

In Scotland, four community co-ops have been launched which now have a small stake in major windfarms that have been built by Falk Renewables, one of Europe’s leading renewable energy companies.

One energy co-op which is aiming for the big time is Co-operative Energy, part of the Co-op Group which launched in 2010.

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