Designing & planning a community energy project

Deciding what type of renewable energy project to pursue can be very dependent on where you live and what opportunities are available in your local area. Often securing permission to use the site you have chosen for your project is the biggest hurdle in a community getting a renewable energy initiative off the ground.

If your group is developing a project, creating a project development plan can help you to understand and manage the process. This can be populated with all tasks to be completed during project development, timescales and the person responsible for each task, to help you plan and keep track of your activity.

Community energy business models

  • Next Generation project - several webinars about different models of community energy.
  • Community Energy South and Essex Council - Community Energy Pathway (download below).
  • Community Energy London - getting started guide.
  • BHESCo - case study of their solar PV & LED lighting "Pay As You Save" business model.
  • Solar for Schools - software tools & partnership offer overview for organisations interested in starting a school solar project (download below).

Other project development guidance

Legal guidance

  • Pure Leapfrog - a comprehensive legal toolkit.
  • Electricity North West - a webinar and slides on licenses vs leases.
  • Coalfields Regeneration Trust Wales - a guide to legal structures for community energy projects (download below).

Finding sites

  • PowerPaired - a matchmaking service for community energy groups and the owners of sites with renewable energy potential.
  • The London Solar Opportunity Map.
  • Temple Bright - a guide about Environmental Impact Assessments (download below).

Community engagement

Some community energy projects can be controversial and may require a careful participatory to engage and get the views of local residents or stakeholders so the project will bring the community along and engaging local people in your project development must be at the core of any community energy project. Community engagement is most effective when it starts early in the project and progresses via an ongoing cumulative process, helping relationships and trust to build as the project progresses and allowing community members to genuinely participate.

  • Community Places - a community engagement toolkit which provides guidance on the issues you need to consider when planning and designing your community engagement process.
  • CSE - a short guide about different approaches and methods for consulting and engaging with your community (download below). CSE also have models and demonstrator kits that community groups can borrow or hire for events.
  • BRE National Solar Centre (with input from us) - a community engagement good practice guide for solar farms (download below).

You may, however, be more interested in an energy efficiency project.

Video Resources

Documents & Downloads