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DECC pushs for local ownership of solar farms

The voluntary agreement released by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) today (3 November) will allow solar developers to explore models of community ownership where it is commercially viable.

Developers will be able to offer ownership and investment options to communities, including direct bond offers and partnerships with local authorities.

Other forms of ownership may also emerge.

Ownership and investment will be possible for some communities, whereas other approaches - such as reduced electricity bills for a specified local area - will be more suited to others.

According to the Solar Trade Association (STA), solar is owned by more than half a million homes and 2,000 community schemes, including schools.

The voluntary agreement hopes to expand public ownership and investment into the large-scale solar sector, which works to ensure solar farms contribute to sustainable farming and boost wildlife.

STA says community ownership will enhance the positive contribution solar can make to the British countryside by enabling people to benefit financially from investment in a local solar farm.

STA head of external affairs Leonie Greene said: “Forming direct financial relationships with communities is exciting, but there are still important unknowns on the costs of some of these approaches.

“Returns in solar are lower than other technologies and the solar industry alone is being forced into smaller schemes, meaning potentially disproportionately higher costs. The solar industry and DECC will therefore need to watch the emerging evidence base closely to identify successful approaches.”

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