What is the issue?
Forum believes that people and organisations, working together locally, can help to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and build more resilient local communities. But after experiencing considerable growth, the community energy movement is now seeing a massive drop in the number of new projects being brought forward – partly due to cuts in subsidy rates and tax reliefs in 2016 that challenged viable rates of return.
Forum believes that whilst there will be disruption in the short term, new approaches and business models can enable community energy to thrive again. It also believes that there are plenty of viable sites but community energy groups have cited identification of sites as one of their biggest problems. This results in protracted delays, the closure of groups and a growing sense of frustration.
Forum also sees a strong desire from corporates, farmers and other landowners to work with community energy groups to strengthen community relations and better manage their energy and carbon. Yet they also experience frustration in knowing if and how to develop renewables and how to find a suitable group to partner with.
What will the project try to achieve?
The key aim of the project is to bring community energy groups and willing asset owners closer together, making it easier for them to take projects forward. To do this, Forum will conduct the research and development required to create and launch a new online ‘Community Energy Asset Bank’, where asset owners enter details of land and buildings, the Forum team curates the bank, and genuine community energy groups can search through potential sites knowing that the owners are willing to engage. The Asset Bank would also look to integrate data from third-parties and provide access to finance and advice providers.
The Asset Bank project aims to:
• reduce the time and cost it takes to identify and secure local sites;
• increase the proportion of identified sites that complete
• demonstrate the value of community energy to asset owners
• increase the number of projects in disadvantaged areas by targeting asset owners and community organisations in these areas.
The project involves a rapid feasibility study and design sprint, followed by regional piloting of the prototype and then national rollout later in 2018.
Who might be interested in this project?
This project will be of interest to community energy groups; funders and support providers to community energy groups; built asset and land owners – commercial, public and third sector; and wider energy sector stakeholders.