Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond and North East MSP Christian Allard have welcomed the introduction of a £20m local energy challenge fund for renewable energy projects across Scotland.
Local partnerships such as community groups, charities, local authorities, housing associations, universities and businesses can now apply to set up low-carbon energy pilot projects in their areas through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) Local Energy Challenge Fund.
The Scottish Government aims to have 500 MW of renewables in the community and locally-owned by 2020 - which the Fraser of Allander Institute estimates will be worth up to £2.2bn over the lifetime of the associated projects.
One initiative that has helped scores of local residents is the Udny Community Turbine, which was the first wholly community-owned and operated wind turbine of its kind on the Scottish mainland and has generated more than £100,000 for the Pitmedden and Udny Green villages since 2011.
Mr Salmond said: “Projects like the community-owned turbine at Udny are providing thousands of pounds worth of benefits for those living locally and we want to encourage others to follow suit.
“This £20million local energy challenge fund will allow our communities to own and benefit from their own energy projects.
“We are already well on track to meeting our 2020 target with over 285MW of community and locally-owned renewables in operation. This £20million investment will take our commitment one step further and ensure more value from the generation is retained locally.
“With a Yes vote in September, we will be able to harness our energy wealth for the people of Scotland.”
Mr Allard commented: “I am delighted that community projects will be able to apply for funding which will help create some truly innovative and exciting energy project for Scotland.
“Renewable energy is extremely important to Scotland and local projects like the Udny Community Turbine show how much these can benefit the people living near them.
“With this investment we can cement Scotland’s position as a global leader in renewables and low carbon development.”
The new fund coincides with the launch of the Community Energy Policy Statement (CEPS) which sets out the Scottish Government’s record of support for community energy and new ambition for local energy solutions. Members of the public will be asked to put forward their views on the statement during a 12-week consultation period.