Wind Energy: Engage, Involve, Energize!

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Authority – Develop

Wind project development by local authorities

Local authorities may wish to explore the development of a renewable energy project as a way to ensure sustainable and long-term income for their area. The way in which local authorities deliver such projects will dependent on country context, and there may be central support available in some areas.

Where local authorities are considering developing renewable energy projects, they are encouraged to explore the opportunity for local ownership, and inclusion of local communities as meaningful financial partners in the project.


Wind project siting by local authorities

Without investing in wind turbines themselves, local authorities can draw siting and development plans for the installation of wind turbines on their territories.
The city of Eeklo in the North of Flanders did so in the late 90s. The deputy mayor of sports and youth started a search for solutions to high lighting costs. Assisted by the city environment officer and involving local citizens they looked into solar PV, biogas and finally wind, situated close to the city centre and existing infrastructure. They took their citizens for visits to other wind turbines and developed a siting plan for the whole territory of the city and even neighbouring municipalities. A tender for site development was launched with heavy focus on citizen participation, and a co-operative was awarded to Ecopower with a 100% community ownership model. This has led to a lasting partnership between the city and the cooperative. In the running up to the construction of the wind turbines, the cooperative organised open public meeting explaining in detail which impact the wind turbines might have on the life of people and nature.
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The city of Eeklo did a sustainable energy planning exercise resulting in a well-founded wind development plan for the city and even for the surrounding area. Recently the province overruled this plan and came up with concentration zones that included the city of Eeklo territory and vastly increased the number of wind turbines on its territory. The province developed “wind energy concentration zones” along two mayor highways crossing the province in the middle and in the North. The plan for the concentration zone in the middle of the province was later, in its turn rejected at regional level by the Flemish minister of the environment.


Wind project siting by local regional authorities

As part of the development of energy landscapes, the province of Eastern-Flanders has appointed concentration areas for wind projects, creating certainty for both inhabitants and users of the area and for project developers. The Province Council has also issued an unenforceable request to the developers to open at least 20% of the projects up for local participation: 10% for citizens, 10% for local authorities.
Another part of the project is the creation of a local fund that will be financed by developer payments and can be used by the community within 800 m of the wind projects to finance local projects. A board of inhabitants and farmers in the area will decide on the spending.
This animation video shows what the energy landscape is about, which areas have been declared concentration areas and how the surroundings fund will work.