Additionally, as a primarily volunteer-led sector, organisations find it difficult to find the time to share learning and good practice with other groups. This can lead to duplication of effort, missed development opportunities as well as regional variations in activity. This lack of capacity also means that community energy groups struggle to find the time to feed into consultations and numerous research projects, which results in the implications for community energy in changing policy or regulation not being addressed. It is more important than ever to ensure that community energy has a voice as post-Brexit policies and post-subsidy business models are being negotiated and developed.
What will the project try to achieve?
Community Energy England (CEE) will develop a clear 10-year vision with the community energy sector that the public and politicians can understand and support to provide a strong foundation that will be used for ongoing communications, lobbying and policy development. A set of values, principles and good practice criteria will be developed in conjunction with the sector to increase the resilience of community energy and to build a business case for specific support mechanisms for community energy organisations with both national and regional government.
Research conducted by CEE indicates that the support of regional hubs is one of the most effective ways to increase the number of community organisations and projects. The establishment of regional hubs also reduces the likelihood of duplication of effort in a geographical area and reduces the pressure on a handful of established groups to share their learning nationally. CEE will support the establishment of regional hubs in the East and Yorkshire & the Humber, two areas with lower community energy activity. A network of existing regional hubs across England will also be supported to share learning across the country and to support informal peer to peer networking on a more local basis. Concurrently, a network of policy experts and working groups will be established that will feed into consultations, produce briefing notes on key opportunities and threats and update policy asks as necessary. Harnessing the expertise and practical experience of CEE’s membership will ensure that clear policy asks are developed specifically for community energy that will ensure that people are put at the heart of energy decisions. It will also reduce the amount of time each individual organisation has to spend on developing consultations responses and feeding into different research projects. CEE will establish a sustainable, long-term framework that shapes and responds to policy as a whole and assesses where most impact can be made.
Who Might be Interested in the Project?
Community energy organisations, local authorities, central government, local enterprise partnerships, social and environmental funders, politicians, housing associations, environmental and social NGOs, co-operative sector, private sector organisations looking to improve their CSR and reduce their environmental impact.