A community with renewable energy sources

Watch all the sessions from the CARES Conference 2021 on our YouTube channel

You can also read the responses to questions raised during the opening plenary.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Climate change is not a distant far away problem, we’re already seeing the impact here in Scotland. That’s why we need everyone – businesses, communities, industry and individuals – to join us in taking action to achieve Scotland’s Net Zero Targets.

Join us as we take our annual conference online to find out what communities have been doing to tackle the climate crisis through their involvement in renewable energy projects and how these are benefitting their local communities.

We’ll be looking at how your community can transition to net zero with the support of the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). We’ll also be joined by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Be inspired and find out what communities like yours could do next.


9.15am – 9.30am – Sign in (Microsoft Teams)

9.30am – 11am – Opening session

Presentations and a panel Q&A session. Speakers include:

  • Janet Foggie, CEO, Community Energy Scotland – Janet will talk about the strengths and direction of the community energy sector and how Community Energy Scotland can help build community capacity, act as a collective voice for the sector and how you can join.
  • Dr Rebecca Ford, Senior Lecturer, University of Strathclyde – Rebecca will share learnings from EnergyREV, a consortium of multi-disciplinary academics with the mission to accelerate the uptake of smart local energy systems.  We’ll hear about the projects emerging from EnergyRev and the considerations required to drive more inclusive forms of participation to deliver a just transition to net zero.
  • Sue Kearns, Deputy Director Heat in Buildings, Scottish Government – Sue will highlight the importance and the challenges to decarbonising our homes and workplaces which means a fundamental shift for almost all of us.  We’ll focus on ways in which communities can play a part in the delivery of the proposals in the draft heat in buildings strategy.

Keynote speech by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

11am – 11.15am – break

11.15am – Community stories. Inspiring case studies from community projects.

Presentations and a panel Q&A session. Speakers include:

  • Agamemnon Otero, Energy Garden – Energy Garden activates and supports communities across London to grow food, learn about renewable energy, gardening and improve biodiversity. Energy Garden has secured funding to negotiate the legal permissions of solar installations, fund staff to oversee the development of 34 gardens, run 44 schools’ programmes, 5 youth training programmes and buy the materials and equipment necessary to help communities transform their schools, estates, and overground train stations into green, health-giving spaces
  • Dan McCallum, Egni Co-op – The Egni Co-op in Wales has raised nearly £4.5m in share offers and has installed 4.3MW of solar pv. Find out more about how this ambitious project raised shares, got people involved and acted as an anchor to encourage projects across the area.
  • David Bennet, Bespoke CIC – The 900kW community owned Greencraig Community Wind Turbine was commissioned in March 2021. We’ll hear about the successes and challenges they faced along the way and there will be a particular focus on how projects like these can help create impact in your local community.
  • Angus Robertson and Nick Torduff, MorVolts – The Barr River Community Hydro project in Morvern is the UK’s largest community owned hydro at 1.6MW. The hydro was commissioned in July 2021 and is now generating electricity to sell to the national grid.

12.15pm – 1.30pm – break

1.30pm – 2.30pm – Focus session (choose one session, see below for details)

2.30pm – 3pm – break

3pm – 4pm – Focus session (choose one session, see below for details)

4pm – Conference closes

Focus sessions: 1.30pm – 2.30pm

1. Net zero community buildings

This session will focus on improving the energy efficiency of and decarbonising community buildings. We’ll look at the steps you should take, any issues to be aware of, and the support available to start your journey. We’ll draw on experience and look at CARES-funded projects to provide real life examples and learnings, such as Nairn Community Arts Centre who have improved the energy efficiency of their building, installed electric vehicle charge points, upgraded boilers, solar panels, battery storage and accessed advice along the way from Local Energy Scotland, Energy Saving Trust, Zero Waste Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

In this session we’ll hear from:

  • Local Energy Scotland who will set out a step by step approach
  • Bob Ferenth, Nairn Community Arts Centre
  • Waheed Khan, Inverness Masjid
  • John Murray, Zero Waste Scotland

This session is particularly relevant for community organisations that own or lease a building and want to reduce their environmental impact and energy bills.

2. Off-grid places and remote islands

CARES has provided funding and support to help remote communities start the journey to decarbonising their energy systems. This session will focus on ongoing support available through CARES and will give the opportunity to hear lessons learned from those delivering these projects.

We’ll hear from the team delivering the Knoydart Energy Security Project, replacement hydro pipeline in Knoydart who will share their learnings of planning, funding, mobilising and construction of a critical infrastructure project in a remote place.

  • Frank Atherley, Knoydart Renewables
  • Kyle Smith, Knoydart Renewables
  • Ralph Spernagel, Natural Power

This session will be insightful for those considering or involved in community infrastructure projects is particularly relevant for community organisations in remote and off-grid locations.  The Knoydart Energy Security Project will provide a clean, affordable, reliable supply of electricity that will continue to drive the economic regeneration of the area.


3. Turning community benefits into net zero action

Local Energy Scotland maintains a register of community benefits; this shows that around £22 million is provided each year to communities across Scotland from commercial renewable energy developments. Find out more about how communities have used income from community benefits to decarbonise their community.

In this session we’ll be joined by:

  • Lindsay Dougan, SSE Renewables
  • Carol Masheter, Soirbheas
  • Bea Jefferson, Foundation Scotland

This session is particularly relevant for community organisations in areas where community benefits are, or will soon be, available and for renewable energy developers that offer packages of community benefits.

4. Let’s do shared ownership

Shared ownership is where a community group invests in a commercially owned renewable energy project to create a sustainable income to empower their community. This session will share learning and current practice from recent projects.

In this session we’ll be joined by:

  • Kirsty O’Brien, Invicta Public Affairs/WKN GmbH
  • Clare Lacey or Andrew Wilkinson, QMPF.

This session is particularly relevant for community organisations and renewable energy developers that are considering current or future opportunities for shared ownership.

Focus sessions: 3pm – 4pm

1. Decarbonising heat

Decarbonising heat is the key challenge for urban and rural communities across Scotland.  This session will focus on two great examples of projects communities could support and the policy direction.

The Scottish Government’s draft Heat in Buildings Strategy sets the challenge of doubling installations of zero emissions heating system each year so that by 2030 over 1 million homes and around 50,000 non-domestic buildings are converted.  The Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) aims to support this through local authority plans for improving the energy efficiency and decarbonising heat. What will these policy means for communities and what part can we play?

We’ll also learn about a ‘co-operative ownership’ model for heat networks, that’s common in Denmark and an initiative in West Linton that is supporting a community wide approach to installing air source heat pumps and improving energy efficiency of homes.

In this session we’ll be joined by:

  • Melanie Macrae, Scottish Government
  • Ken Brady, Energy Saving Trust
  • Donna Marshall, Changeworks

This session is particularly relevant for organisations that are looking for ideas on they might be able to help decarbonise heat in their communities.

2. Building community capacity to take on net zero projects

Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) lead this session that will demonstrate how communities can (and have) built their capacity to take on net zero projects.

This session is particularly relevant for community organisations which are looking to increase their impact.

3. Developing new renewable electricity projects

This session will focus on developing new, larger scale renewable electricity projects in the subsidy-free environment. The team at Local Energy Scotland will share thoughts on what next and will be joined by Scottish Water and Locogen to talk about key opportunities through partnerships to sell energy locally and through commercially scaled wind and solar projects.

In this session we’ll hear from:

  • Andrew Morton, Local Energy Scotland
  • Julie McKinney, Scottish Water
  • Andrew Lyle, Locogen

This session is particularly relevant for more experienced community organisations and community energy groups that have the capacity to take on new models or larger scale income generating projects.

4. CARES funding and support

Meet some of the team at Local Energy Scotland and learn how we can help you turn ideas and ambitions into community action to net zero. This session will focus on the funding and support that CARES offers to start your community action to net zero. Help is available to turn your ideas into action.

This session is particularly relevant for those that want to find out more about CARES and what they can do next.