Community Wind Power Ownership Schemes in Europe and their Relevance to the United States

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Why is it that wind development has evolved this way in Europe, but not in the United States? What incremental effect have community-owned wind schemes had on European wind development? Have community-owned wind schemes driven development in Europe, or are they merely a vehicle through which the fundamental driving institutions have been channeled? Is there value to having community wind ownership in the US? Is there reason to believe that such schemes would succeed in the US? If so, which model seems most appropriate, and what barriers – legal, regulatory, tax, market, or investment – stand in the way of implementing such a scheme? These are the questions this report seeks to address. The report begins with a discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of community wind ownership, as opposed to the large commercially-owned projects that have so far dominated US wind development. Next, four detailed case studies relate community-owned wind experience in Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, focusing primarily on the different participatory models employed in each country. The report then categorizes the various models into three main groupings – community-led, developer-led, and investment funds – and draws general conclusions about the success of each category in Europe, and the conditions that dictate the effective use of one approach over another. Finally, the focus shifts to the US, where the report discusses the domestic barriers facing each model category, and identifies the category offering the most value with the fewest barriers to implementation. The report concludes with a high-level introduction to potential applications for community wind ownership within the United States.

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