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Government provides support to households who install small-scale renewable energy systems through Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), while large scale projects like off-shore wind farms will soon be supported through new fixed-price Contracts for Difference (CfDs). Medium sized energy projects of between 10 - 50 Megawatts (MW) currently fall in the gap and do not receive support. Giving communities a stake in local energy projects has the potential to broaden public understanding of energy issues and could also enhance the security and efficiency of the energy system as a whole. This report identifies a number of barriers that can prevent local energy projects getting off the ground. Securing funding and Power Purchase Agreements, connecting to the grid and overcoming public opposition can all prove difficult. Obtaining planning permission can be costly and time-consuming, and the risk of losing tens of thousands of pounds if permission is not granted is a huge obstacle for community groups or small cooperatives. Some form of support mechanism is needed alongside a comprehensive package of measures addressing finance, planning, grid access and advice. The Green Investment Bank could provide seed funding and project development funding for feasibility studies, grid permits, etc to reduce some of the risk in getting projects through the planning process. Government needs to do more to encourage local authorities to identify suitable areas for renewable energy development and to develop clear guidance about what is expected from local energy projects. National level planning guidance should be provided on technical issues that hold up planning consent for wind turbines and other low-carbon technologies
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