If we are to combat the climate crisis, large-scale solutions and international cooperation are crucial. But real change often starts at the grassroots level. Today I’m handing the blog reins over to Ripple, a company focused on community-powered renewable energy projects, to explore the power of grassroots, people-powered climate action and the ways that cooperative models can make a significant difference. Not just to those directly involved, but the world as a whole too.

People power: why cooperative-owned wind farms are a win for everyone 

As the need for sustainable and green energy solutions becomes ever more urgent, the UK is well into the shift towards renewable resources. Among these, wind energy is clearly the frontrunner, offering an abundant source of low-cost, clean power that is contributing significantly to the UK’s energy independence.

Ripple was founded to not only amplify the amount of renewable energy being generated and added to the grid but to make access to it equitable through cooperatively owned onshore wind farms (and solar parks). This people-centric model isn’t just about generating electricity; it’s about empowering communities, democratising energy, and reaping economic and environmental benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at how cooperatively owning an onshore wind farm in the UK is a win for everyone involved.

Community matters 

The power of a cooperative model lies in its people-together approach. Unlike conventional energy projects owned by large utilities and pension funds, cooperative wind farms are owned and operated by groups of like-minded and sustainably driven people. This ownership model fosters pride among the members, as they play a direct role in transitioning the UK to renewable energy.

The Ripple community is full of people taking climate action, above and beyond their memberships. With around half of all Ripple members now driving an EV, embracing green energy was just the start of their environmental journey, with many discussing their efforts in the community forum.

Economic upsides

One of the most compelling reasons for people to buy shares in cooperative wind farms is the bill-saving element. By generating and using their own power, Ripple members can protect themselves from volatile energy market prices, leading to long-term bill stabilisation. Wind farm projects offer at least 25 years of savings, making them a long-term lifestyle support mechanism that is valuable at all stages of life.

Essentially, co-owning a wind farm allows people to buffer themselves against the uncertainty of energy price caps, which has become a major concern in the UK in recent years.

Ripple has made membership as egalitarian as possible, with everybody aged 16 and over being eligible, provided they have an electricity account in their name, and with share purchases starting at just £25.

Environmental stewardship

The environmental benefits of wind energy are well-documented and collective action allows thousands of individuals and businesses to pull their resources together to build more wind farms. The projects that are funded by sustainability enthusiasts reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and support biodiversity efforts. The latter are always included in Ripple site plans.

Additionally, successful projects can serve as educational platforms, raising awareness, and inspiring more people to become Ripple members, to allow new renewable energy sites to be built in the future.

Energy security and independence 

Energy security is a growing concern in today’s geopolitically volatile world. Increasingly, nations are looking to lessen their reliance on a minority of other countries for their energy needs, to guarantee uninterrupted and reliable supply. The UK government has spoken on this topic regularly and is currently aiming to double domestic energy generation by the “late 2030s”. However, it remains committed to oil and gas extraction, which is why renewable alternatives need to prove their worth now.

Cooperative wind farms have a crucial role to play in enhancing the UK’s energy portfolio. By generating their own electricity, Ripple members reduce their reliance on imported fuels, thereby contributing to the nation’s energy resilience. They also slash their dependence on fossil fuels, while actively greening the grid and demonstrating how easy it is to choose clean energy.

A clean energy future for everyone

The UK is part of the UN Net Zero Coalition which means that it has pledged to be net zero by 2050. As such, the role of people-owned energy projects will no doubt become increasingly significant. Why? Because cooperative wind farms are beacons of innovation, collaboration, and sustainability. They embody the principle that when we come together, we don’t have to feel helpless in the face of unpredictable energy bills and supply.

They also reinforce the message that everyone can embrace a green energy future for themselves, regardless of whether they own their own home or how much disposable income they have.

Everyone is welcome to join Ripple and start contributing to something bigger than themselves but driven by their own efforts. 

That’s real people power.

This blog was first posted by Ripple Energy on February 28th 2024. 

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