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Renewables offer cash boost for local communities - think tank

Emily Shelton

16th September 2010

If climate change isn't enough motivation, the increasing financial benefits from renewable energy could pave the way for lower carbon lifestyles, a leading think tank has claimed

Writing in The Ecologist, Reg Platt, a researcher with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), says renewable energy could not only help people reduce their emissions but also provide a much needed cash boost to local communities.

The government’s Feed-In Tariff introduced earlier this year, means ‘households and organisations can get paid for generating electricity’ via renewable technology, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Platt argues ‘solar panels on pubs could generate around £15 million, village halls £10 million, community centres £8 million, churches and other religious buildings £25 million, schools £35 million and swimming pools £3 million’, through the Feed-In Tariff. In addition the buildings will be able to use the electricity for free and sell anything they don’t use back to the grid.

Up until now, renewable technology has been seen as too expensive for homeowners and organisations, some having to wait 35 years to reap the rewards via reduced electricity bills. However, with the Feed-In Tariff it appears ‘renewables have suddenly become an attractive financial proposition’.

Retailers recognise this opportunity and are now offering a vast range of new innovative renewable energy products for homes and communities. To address high up front costs many financing options are also becoming available.

Despite initial scepticism, the climate change debate remains heated and recent research shows renewables are popular. According to an IPPR survey, almost half of us agree strongly or very strongly that we should be generating 15 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2015. An Ipsos Mori poll found 88 per cent of people are favourable towards solar power.

Platt writes, ‘Now more than ever we need to find alternative ways of engaging people in reducing their carbon emissions rather than asking them to do it just because of climate change. Renewable technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels, may be just the answer we are looking for.’

He continues, ‘backed up by the Feed-In Tariff, [renewables] present a major opportunity for getting people engaged in reducing their emissions and we would all be wise to make the most of it.’

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