Onshore wind farms: Simon Hart on future of renewable energy

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Energy giant OVO has announced it has kickstarted a new project to help power “thousands more homes” in the UK with affordable, homegrown, renewable energy. The company announced it has joined Community Energy England’s membership as a Principal Supporter, with the aim of providing the sector with enhanced levels of support for community-led projects, which will power thousands more homes with renewable power. Community Energy England is a not-for-profit which represents and supports 310 community energy organisations and other stakeholders.

The companies aim to deliver community-led renewable energy, energy demand reduction and energy advice services across England. The organisation aims to boost the profile of community energy, sharing learning and innovation, and advocating for supportive policies.

As part of this new partnership, OVO said it is “demonstrating its commitment to support the growth of the sector”, by helping energy projects bring in additional revenue.

This includes providing community energy organisations access to subsidy-free funding, which could make the difference between renewable energy developments going ahead or not.

Over the past year, households in the UK have been gripped by the worst effects of a fossil fuel energy crisis, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent wholesale natural gas prices to record levels.

As a result, the Government has been scrambling to end its reliance on gas imports through an accelerated renewable rollout, which could boost the UK’s energy security, while also reducing bills.

Last week, Martin Pibworth, the Chief Commercial Officer of SSE, which is owned by OVO noted that the UK should focus on building a homegrown energy system that is “cheaper, cleaner and more secure and that better protects families and businesses in the future.”

Community energy, which refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy, energy demand reduction and energy supply projects, could play a key role in this transition.

These projects can be either wholly owned and/or controlled by communities or through a partnership with commercial or public sector partners.

Stephen Harris, VP of Energy, OVO Energy said: “We’re committed to supporting investment in renewable energy generation and community projects across the UK.

“I am delighted to partner with Community Energy England and support new independent renewable generation, supporting the UK’s net zero goals and removing our reliance on a fossil fuel dominated energy system.”

Philip Coventry, Head of Operations, Community Energy England said: “We are delighted to welcome OVO Energy to our Principal Supporter Membership.

“We’re looking forward to helping the OVO team with their initiatives to support the growth of community energy by providing the sector with more investment and enhanced levels of support.

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“With ongoing cooperation we are confident that OVO’s engagement with community energy will facilitate new opportunities that will benefit the whole sector and its growth.”

In a statement, OVO noted that it was the first supplier to commit funding to specifically support subsidy-free generation, which would helping to incentivise more small-scale, independent wind and solar farms by offering them an above-market price for the electricity they generate.

The initiative’s aim is to create a thriving market that will directly drive new investment in renewable assets in the UK, supporting the UK’s net zero goals.

The announcement follows the news of two deals to power thousands of homes. Last month, OVO Energy announced that it signed two deals with onshore windfarms, which they say will help boost the industry as it powers thousands of homes.

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