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WWEA and LEE NRW, the Renewable Energy Association of the German state North-Rhine Westfalia, have launched a study on the current status, main drivers and barriers of community based wind farms. CEOs of community wind farms and other experts were interviewed on favourable and detrimental factors for community wind.

The answers reflected unanimously great concerns about the current trend towards auction systems for power from renewable energy. Auctions are usually setting up insurmountable barriers for community based investors. In contrast, simple feed-in tariff systems have been assessed as having paved the way for broad citizens’ participation and community wind farms. So far, community owned wind farms have been a mainstream investment model in particular in Germany and previously in Denmark, with very positive impact on social acceptance and on distribution of economic benefits, especially on locally added value. A clear outcome of the community wind study is, is that community wind in Germany, in the European Union and beyond is now at cross-roads: The upcoming auctions are expected to put a strong competitive disadvantage on community wind projects as such investors can hardly comply with the requirements of such systems. As a result, the externalisation of wind power “acceptance costs” could have drastic effects both on the further dissemination of community wind projects and on the outcome of the Energiewende, the shift towards a 100 % renewable energy supply. The full study “Headwind and Tailwind for Community Power: Community Wind Perspectives from North-Rhine Westfalia and the World” can be downloaded in from: www.wind.community.

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