Community benefit through community ownership of renewable generation in Scotland: power to the people?

Aileen McHarg

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Community ownership is being promoted by the Scottish Government as a means of delivering economic benefits to communities in which renewable electricity developments are situated. This paper argues that community ownership should be regarded as more than simply a strategy for increasing the public acceptability of renewable energy projects, but rather that has considerable transformative potential: for the economic sustainability of host communities; in relation to wider issues concerning the social distribution of power and resources; and for the energy industry itself. The paper discusses, first, the financial and other advantages of community ownership, as compared with more conventional methods of delivering community benefit. Second, it explores the relationship between community ownership of renewables and wider processes of land reform in Scotland. Finally, it considers the potential of community ownership to be the harbinger of a new model of 'energy democracy' which challenges the prevailing neo-liberal paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSharing the Costs and Benefits of Energy and Resource Activity
Subtitle of host publicationLegal Change and Impact on Communities
EditorsLila Barrera-Hernandez, Barry Barton, Lee Godden, Alastair Lucas, Anita Rønne
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198767954
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2016


  • Scotland
  • renewable energy
  • community ownership
  • land reform
  • energy democracy


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