You may have seen the words ‘community owned energy’ cropping up more often.
Community energy is community-led renewable energy generation or storage. For example, fitting solar panels or batteries on (or inside) a community building such as a school or sports centre. And projects can also include retrofitting community buildings to make them more energy efficient. As the name suggests, these projects are either partly or wholly owned by the community. Sometimes this involves individuals investing in the scheme but there are also grants available for these projects such as:
- The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme
- Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF)
- Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF)
There are some great resources on designing, implementing and engaging community energy by Community Energy England.
Bulb actually buys power from Bro Dyfi; the first community funded turbines in Wales. Locals clubbed together to install a full scale turbine called Vicky, and some of the profit made from the sale of the energy generated was paid back directly to the local investors.
Here’s some examples of community projects in action:
- Repowering, based in London
- Community Energy South, based in Lewes
- CREW Energy, based in Wandsworth, London
- Maid Energy, based in Maidenhead
- Shine on, based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Currently there are 264.9 MW of community-owned generating capacity in England and Wales, and that number is predicted to increase between 12-20 times by 2030, given the right policy support.
The benefits of the projects are felt at a local level. Often a share offer is created so investors make a return on their investment. And additional funds are also set up from the profits, to support local projects.
According to WPI Economics 95% of community energy groups in England mentioned climate change as being an important motivator, although there are also financial and social benefits to these projects too.
Has anyone been involved in a community energy project or looked into setting one up?