That’s why 20 community energy and affiliated groups, including ourselves and several of our grantholders, have endorsed a new ‘Manifesto for Community Energy’, produced by Green Alliance. We believe these policy recommendations would enable a level playing field and fair access to market, allowing it to survive and thrive.
In support we organised a letter signed by 10 large impact investors and grant makers to Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, asking for community energy to be heard and its added value considered in new energy policy.
At Friends Provident Foundation, we’ve been giving grants to community energy groups to innovate and develop new business models for a 3D energy system, such as Repowering London for a tower block community energy supply model, and Bath & West Community Energy for a neighbourhood storage and demand model. Plus, sector support such as Community Energy England and Forum for the Future’s community energy asset bank.
We’ve also made impact investments, including a community share offer by Awel Community Wind Farm in South Wales to enable refinance and additional community benefit; and a bond offer by Thrive Renewables that enabled asset transfers from commercial to community ownership, including a wind farm in Cumbria and a solar array in the Midlands. But in recent years there have been few investment opportunities in new community generation.
It’s a shame as the capital is there, in the rapidly growing impact investment sector, now moving beyond charitable and philanthropic investors and into the mainstream. Community energy is just the type of high impact investment this growing market is looking for.
We believe if the policy barriers can be overcome, community energy will play a significant role in a just transition to decarbonised and more decentralised energy.
The graphic below, produced by another grantholder, LSE Grantham Institute, for its ‘Investing in a Just Transition’ programme, captures perfectly the dimensions of the just transition. Community energy has clear roles to play in relation to ‘communities’ and ‘consumers’.