Supporting community projects
In 2022 we supported almost 200 community projects with funding including refurbishing community facilities, supporting cultural groups to preserve their heritage and helping to rebuild community health facilities.
Almost half of our projects are now involved in community engagement models and the number is growing. In Italy we established our first crowdfunding campaign to allow the people living around our plants to invest in renewable energy projects, achieving almost 70 investors and 180% of our target funds. In Spain, we are the first company to be awarded with the Sustainability Seal by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for three agrivoltaic projects.
Our Sustainability Charter sets out our commitments for sustainable growth – first and foremost our responsibility to the communities that host our plants.
We aim to promote a just energy transition, which requires working with communities in pursuit of a common goal.
We have developed tools to ensure transparency in our activities and engage in ongoing dialogue with communities. These include Construction Liaison Groups to update local communities on project developments and to discuss any issues that may arise during the construction phase. Our Community Managers liaise with communities, playing a key role in managing any critical issues.
Creating shared value
We promote the economic participation of local communities by providing the opportunity to invest in our plants through local cooperative schemes
We support social, education, environmental or infrastructure initiatives in local communities through our community benefit schemes and encourage the sharing of best practice
Training and education
We support the creation of skills, competence and knowledge sharing in relation to energy sustainability through training projects and educational initiatives
We minimise the impact of our activities on the environment in the areas where we operate
Local supply chain
We encourage the use of local workforces and short supply chains, benefitting local economies and the environment
Local co-operative schemes
Under a co-operative scheme, local people can buy a stake in a new plant. Co-op members then receive an annual return linked to the productivity of the plant, and at the end of the life of the plant the initial capital is returned to the co-operative members. We were one of the first companies to use this model, at one of our UK wind farms in 2005. Since then, we have created seven co-operatives with around 3,600 participating members, who have raised more than €12.2 million to invest in our plants and have received around €9.2 million in interest to date.
The co-ownership scheme allows communities, through a social enterprise, to become part-owner of the plant and earn money for every unit of electricity generated. The social enterprise can then reinvest the money in local enhancement projects.
Community benefit scheme
These schemes support local impact projects put forward by the communities near our plants. Residents set up and manage trust funds or associations, and we fund their initiatives with a portion of the revenues generated by the plant. To date, 18 plants in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Spain and France have collective benefit schemes in place, which helped to support almost 200 projects in 2022, in education, culture, leisure, and sustainable energy.
Lending-based crowdfunding is an innovative funding model, first tested in 2021 in Italy. Individual citizens finance the construction of the plant through an online crowdfunding platform, receiving interest on the loan for a predetermined number of years, and then recovering the initial capital.