In our previous article we have introduced the term and idea of Community Renewable Energy, CRE, when we introduced the concept of Renewable Green Energy Community, RGEC. It was mentioned that one of the characteristics of a RGEC is that it has a Community Renewable Energy infrastructure to cover the needs of the community to an as much great extend as possible.
A Community Renewable Energy infrastructure can be build by any community that identifies the need to have, control and manage its energy production and consumption and especially by communities that may be blessed with renewable green energy sources such as wind, hydro and/or sun exposure.
The term Community Renewable Energy, CRE, refers to a community owned and locally sited renewable energy. It refers to an energy production facility that uses renewable green energy sources of energy to produce electricity and/or heat where the community participates not only for the production but for the consumption of the produced electricity.
A Renewable Green Energy Community has the option to produce electricity distributed or centrally thus forming a central community serving system to cover the needs of the community. The advantages of the having the CRE run centrally can be summarized as follows:
- The centralized CRE has lower cost than a distributed CRE system
- A centralized CRE system can be wind, biomass or hydro based system and if PV it can be sun tracking PV that is more efficient
- Operation, Maintenance and monitoring is lower
- It is maintained by technology experts
- It can be a double amenity structure, for instance a community parking system that is covered with PV cells
Once the community decides to run a CRE project there are numerous benefits that can result from such a decision that would benefit the community in 3 main areas: Economic, Environmental and Social. Expanding these benefits of each area we have the following benefits for a CRE project:
- Keeps jobs within the community
- Energy money are kept in the local community
- Technology and technical skills around renewable energy are added in the community
- Reduces the dependency on fossil fuel and thus on their price fluctuation
- Matches the generation and consumption with proper management and encourages the consumption conservation culture
- Produces power when there is highest demand by the local community according to the characteristics of the community and can take advantage of the sun if PV technology is used
A CRE project reduces
- the CO2 emissions and their potential impact on climate changes
- pollution related sickness
- the long distance transmission losses over the public grid
- The need of extraction industries by reducing the dependency on fossil fuels
- The need of large hydro projects which may sometimes result to flooding and erosion
And it can increase
- The environmental awareness of the community
- The conservation of energy since the community will have a direct involvement in the production of energy
The social benefits of the CRE project can be the following:
- Increase participation of the people in the local community by bringing them together for a common cause
- Enables the opportunities for more future community projects and initiatives
- Involves the people with renewable green energy
- Builds a greater acceptance attitude for renewable green energy
- It becomes as the source of pride for the local community
- It offers opportunities for young people to be employed by the local community and remain in the area, thus expanding it
There are many steps and procedures that can and should be followed in order for a community to create a Community Renewable Energy production system. It is all about a project that should be initiated with the right business plan, presented to the community for acceptance and adoption. Once approved, it should be financed and managed properly so that it would result to a sustainable energy production facility that would bring all the mentioned benefits.