A new report has been published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs based on WISERD research by Professor Judith Marquand, Kate O’ Sullivan and Dr Sioned Pearce from Cardiff University.
‘Factors influencing local and community engagement in renewable energy in Wales’ is based on conversations with people directly involved with local and community renewable energy and energy-saving projects. It outlines the problems they perceived with the projects and identifies measures to alleviate these.
The research emphasised the amount of time and expert skills that are required to realise a local community project, and found that securing funding is less of a problem than is often thought. The research also highlighted that there is insufficient public understanding of renewable energy and sometimes a lack of interest within local authorities, despite the potential for yielding a significant increase in revenue in the long-term.
The report outlines some practical solutions for raising the profile of renewable energy and energy-saving projects, including the need to make better use of the tools already available to us, such as existing forums and educational materials. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act is also identified as an opportunity to make renewable energy and energy efficiency an explicit element of improving well-being in Wales.
Cardiff University was recently selected as the main hub for a £5 million research centre to explore how we can live differently to achieve the rapid and far-reaching emissions cuts required to address climate change. This report provides a timely response to some of the questions around how this might work at a local and community level, if we can adapt and develop our schemes to meet the needs of those who are ready to support them.