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Renewable energy needs more community power

The renewable energy sector needs to use a wider range of business models in order to ensure a fairer distribution of power plants across the UK, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Renewable energy policies should encourage more community-owned projects to avoid a concentration of commercial power plants in poorer areas, argues Dr Dan van der Horst at the University of Birmingham who led the research project.

An analysis of wind farm applications in England shows that rejection of wind energy projects is connected to areas with high political engagement and high life expectancy. The current trend shows that many technically suitable locations may remain unused because of the threat of effective local resistance by people who are relatively privileged.

Planning delays and rejections encourage commercial developers to instead focus on remote or deprived communities as sites for new power plants. In areas of economic fragility, commercial plants are more easily established without having to provide many benefits for the local community.

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