News Release from World Wind Energy Association e.V. (WWEA)

Germany: Study on Community Wind launched - Community Wind threatened by discriminating policies

Paris climate agreement can only be implemented successfully if based on strong social mobilization / Practitioners and experts underline key role of small and community based investors for Energiewende / WWEA presents 10 elements of a global community power strategy

WWEA and LEE NRW, the Renewable Energy Association of the German state North-Rhine Westfalia, launched today a study on the current status, main drivers and barriers of community based wind farms. CEOs of community wind farms and other experts were interviewed on favorable and detrimental factors for community wind. The answers reflected unanimously great concerns about the current trend towards auction systems for power from renewable energy. Auctions are usually setting up insurmountable barriers for community based investors. In contrast, simple feed-in tariff systems have been assessed as having paved the way for broad citizens’ participation and community wind farms. 

So far, community owned wind farms have been a mainstream investment model in particular in Germany and previously in Denmark, with very positive impact on social acceptance and on distribution of economic benefits, especially on locally added value. Community wind holds globally vast potential for the energy transition from a fossil and nuclear based energy regime towards a democratic, decentralised, emission-free, and truly sustainable energy system. The world has agreed during the COP21 in Paris to achieve such a greenhouse fas neutral, i.e. in fact 100 % renewable energy energy supply by the year 2050, hence it is obvious that governments will have to mobilise their citizens and communities to invest in renewable energy. 

However, a clear outcome of the community wind study ist that community wind in Germany, in the European Union and beyond is now at cross-roads: The upcoming auctions are expected to put a strong competitive disadvantage on community wind projects as such investors can hardly comply with the requirements of such systems. As a result, the externalization of wind power “acceptance costs” could have drastic effects both on the further dissemination of community wind projects and on the outcome of the Energiewende, the shift towards a 100 % renewable energy supply.

The results of the community wind study were discussed with international experts from 20 countries during the International Community Power Symposium in Bonn end of January 2016 (all presentation are available on www.wind.community). The discussion with international experts revealed that auctions introduced in several countries, be it in Canada, Brazil or South Africa, have become barriers for community wind investments and in fact destroyed the market for such investors. International experts pointed out that community owned wind farms would have great economic and development potential especially for rural communities in developing countries and that auctions, instead of boosting local development, have mainly supported investment of large international corporations. 

Peter Rae, WWEA President: "Having an interest in the ownership or control and the receipt of some tangible benefit from wind turbines has a strong influence on how wind turbines are perceived. It creates positive awareness of the benefits and receptiveness to the case for renewable energy. In contrast, campaigns to influence public opinion against the various renewable technologies is another reason why community power is so important. The “imposition” of what is seen by some as an interference with the local environment has the potential for an adverse "non-involved" reaction while community involvement helps people to understand the benefits of and support renewable energy, particularly wind."

Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General: "In December last year, 195 governments agreed to phase out fossil fuels by the middle of this century. We have highly welcomed this decision as an important and achievable objective. However, the agreed transition towards climate gas neutral renewable energies has to be accelerated by far, compared with today’s levels, and the needed new investment can only be achieved if communities around the world become the main drivers of change. Unfortunately recent policy trends are putting on risk that the transition can be made on time, as they are discriminating against smaller and community based investors. Therefore WWEA calls upon governments in industrialized as well as in developing countries to set up frameworks which allow small investors like local communities to participate in the market. Feed-in tariffs should be the first choice as they have demonstrated they are transparent, cost efficient, effective and non-discriminatory."

The full study “Headwind and Tailwind for Community Power: Community Wind Perspectives from North-Rhine Westfalia and the World” can be downloaded in English and German from: www.wind.community 

The study includes policy recommendations for the local, regional, national and international level as well as 10 elements of a Global Community Power Strategy:

  1. Community Power is a driver and an essential precondition for the success of the global energy transition as decided in Paris 2015
  2. Community Power brings about an equitable distribution of the benefits and advantages entailed by local and sustainable energy production, further, it enhances local added value, especially in developing countries
  3. Community Power generates and secures acceptance and enhances societal support for the energy transition
  4. Community Power projects must not be discriminated and they should have the same market access opportunities as any other market player
  5. Guaranteed feed-in tariffs are proven to be the most effective policy instrument to provide equitable market access opportunities and, simultaneously, stimulate a dynamic expansion of renewables
  6. There is a need for further policy and market instruments for the integration of renewables into the energy system which specifically harness the potentials and beneficial effects of the Community Power model 
  7. Community Power has a central role for a 100%RE future, especially when it comes to the decentral/local integration of renewables
  8. Promising future business models for Community Power include: direct supply of 100% renewable electricity, e-mobility, heating and cooling and energy storage
  9. Community Power stakeholders have to improve their local, regional, national and international networks and cooperation in order to strengthen their voice in the political arena
  10. Community Power in developing countries can be kick-started and strengthened by a Global FIT programme, for example within the context of the Green Climate Fund.


1st World Community Power Conference, Fukushima, 3 November 2016

WWEA Community Power, ISEP and JCPA and several supporting organizations invite the world of community power cordially to attend the 1st World Community Power Conference 2016 taking place in Fukushima City on the invitation of the Mayor of the City of Fukushima. WCPC aims at bring leading community power proponents from Japan and the world together in order to discuss the role community power has to play in the global shift towards renewable energy. WCPC will also discuss a global community power strategy and its national and local implications. More information on www.wind.community


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