Community energy organisations have a clear track record of inclusive, people-focused low-carbon energy system innovation and demand reduction, harnessing the passion, expertise and investment of people and communities, within an accountable and participatory governance framework. This makes community energy organisations the ideal vehicle to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon energy system built on the consent, trust and active involvement needed to ensure nobody is excluded from the energy system or left behind by systemic change.
The government’s community energy strategy in 2015 envisaged 1 million homes powered by 2020, but the sector has only been able to achieve 10% of this target due to unfavourable policy change and early withdrawal of subsidies. The community energy sector has been increasingly impeded by these policy changes over the past 5 years and is not currently incorporated into the government’s strategy to achieve net zero and the current regulatory framework. The government does not sufficiently understand or value the vital role that the sector can play in engaging the public in the transition to a low-carbon economy and delivering grass-roots solutions. Community Energy England is determined to change this and help the sector grow by the 12-20 times by 2030 that independent research has shown is possible.
What will the project try to achieve?
The ultimate, ambitious outcome of this project is to bring about culture change in government to ensure that people and communities are at the centre of energy, net zero and recovery policy, underpinned by a recognition that community energy is vital to leading this transition. Achieving this requires a strong national voice advocating for enabling systems change from the top down, complementing community energy organisations’ drive to bring systems change from the bottom up. Community Energy England is this voice.
In this project, Community Energy England will continue to argue at the highest levels of government that community energy is indispensable and must be supported if England and the UK as a whole is to achieve a fair, inclusive energy system and transition to net zero. They will target key policy change to embed community energy into national and local level energy planning, policy and regulation, alongside funding mechanisms and a regulatory landscape that enables community energy organisations to participate fully in energy generation and smart systems to actively manage and reduce energy demand. This will be underpinned by spreading understanding and recognition of community energy to amongst MPs and local authorities as a result of targeted activity by members and campaigning partners.
Who might be interested in this project?
Community energy brings together many actors and causes, and produces numerous co-benefits. This project will interest anyone interested in the energy system and its zero-carbon transition, climate change campaigning/action, community action/cohesion, co-operative organisations and community business/wealth-building, fuel poverty alleviation, low-carbon technology/innovation, and government policy/regulation concerning all of the above.