The future looks bright for community energy

The profits from the energy projects are reinvested into local schemes and initiatives which are important to those communities.

There are currently more than 5,000 community groups undertaking energy initiatives in the UK, with community energy projects in the South West alone generating more than 7.4 GWh of renewable energy to date.

At the heart of community energy is a drive to tackle climate change, to make a positive difference to communities and, ultimately, to change the nature of energy ownership, generation and supply to a decentralised system. The aim is for renewable energy to be generated by local communities for local communities.

Community energy co-operative group Mongoose Energy is due to launch its new supply business later this year, selling renewable energy sourced directly from community-owned renewables projects. It will be the first supply business in the UK to be majority owned by community groups, with profits largely being reinvested into local community projects.

There are a number of contributory factors to the continued success of community energy. With community groups being motivated by more than just monetary profit, they are arguably more likely to stay committed to projects in light of subsidy cuts where perhaps some commercial developers might walk away. Share offers issued by community groups to raise funding for projects are often oversubscribed and close early – highlighting the high demand for investing in community energy projects.

Communities are also more important than ever to the success of commercial projects. Commercial developers are increasingly sharing site ownership of their projects with community groups. They are also introducing other initiatives such as local tariffs which offer cheaper renewable energy to nearby communities in the hope that they will encourage support and increase community engagement.

I am a board member of Low Carbon Gordano, a community benefit society helping to create a low carbon future through renewable energy generation, energy storage and carbon reduction measures. The group has raised more than £3 million via two community share issues, owns two solar farms and three solar roof schemes on community buildings, promotes energy reduction and funds a community benefit grant scheme to help its local community to go green.

Low Carbon Gordano, along with other community groups, sees a bright future powered by renewables and is committed to the long-term aims of carbon reduction, renewable generation and energy efficiency.

For further information about community energy, please contact Helen Rumford.


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