Local impact of community renewable energy: A case study of an Orcadian community-led wind scheme

Esther C. van der Waal*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)
    160 Downloads (Pure)


    Local benefits of community renewable energy (CRE) –ranging from an increase in social cohesion, jobs, services, knowledge and skills - are widely assumed in academia and among policy makers. However, there are both a lack of evidence on these impacts and a lack of formal impact assessment methodologies to assess them. This research explores change mapping, an impact assessment methodology, to contribute to evaluative frameworks for assessment of the effects of CRE projects on their host communities. With this methodology, the local impacts of a 900 kW community wind project on the Scottish island Shapinsay are assessed, using an exploratory survey, interviews, and two focus group sessions. When it comes to the local impacts, the biggest changes residents experience are either direct or indirect effects of the RE revenues. Modest but ostensible effects are visible on local economic development, social cohesion, and knowledge and skill development. From the case study can be concluded that community-ownership of energy technologies can indeed be empowering, but also creates vulnerability. Stable energy policies and support during the operational phase are needed to keep up the stream of RE income that functions as a source of independent income.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number111193
    JournalEnergy Policy
    Early online date20-Dec-2019
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020


    • Socio-economic impact
    • Local impact
    • Change mapping
    • Impact assessment
    • Community energy

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