Some of the offers and benefits provided by community energy are eloquently described by the last energy and climate change minister, Chris Skidmore:  ‘I continue to believe that Community Energy remains an important part of the energy system, delivering energy efficiency and demand management, supporting switching and engaging the wider community on the key challenges of the energy transition and wider climate change as well as owning generation assets’[1]. To achieve the urgent (and just) energy transition we need ‘to take the population with us’ (Chris Skidmore). As a trusted intermediary community energy is best placed to do that by advocating and delivering changes such as local renewable energy, smart meters, energy audits, energy efficiency retrofits etc. An army of local enthusiasts and experts is waiting and wanting to help achieve the energy transition.

Other benefits include:

  • Energy and Climate Change
    • Carbon Reduction which otherwise would not have been achieved.
    • Increased renewable energy generation (at community level, often on buildings that would not be a commercial prospect, eg on social housing).
    • Increasing resource efficiency, harnessing unused roofs to generate energy, reducing transmission losses by local generation for local use.
    • New routes to engaging people in local action on climate change, fuel poverty, energy efficiency, innovation.
    • Increased energy awareness/literacy, carbon literacy resulting in:
    • Behaviour change. (essential for 60% of CCC’s recommended interventions for reaching zero-carbon)
    • Advocacy in the local community for roll-out of future technology (eg Smart Meters) and energy efficiency
  • Innovation
    • Innovation trials in the community pioneering such projects as:
    • Reducing energy bills for those living near renewable energy installations
    • Local flexibility services
    • Local grid services, capacity, balancing, frequency response, voltage
    • Monitoring real-life usage of technologies 
  • Local societal and economic benefits
    • Community Benefit Funds (£972,000 in UK in 2018, >£2m in Scotland)
    • New investment sources:
      1. from local investors many of whom become actively engaged in the projects.
      2. Inward investment
    • Stimulates local economy via:
      1. Profits and money staying local, via investor dividends, reduced energy bills, local project spend, and:
      2. More local jobs in energy solutions.
      3. Upskilling, apprenticeships,
      4. New partnerships, cooperation locally.
      5. Increased resilience.
  • Alleviating Fuel Poverty
    • Doing low-cost, high-return energy saving measures.
    • Reduced bills for vulnerable customers
    • Better health and wellbeing resulting in:
      • Reduced social costs
      • Better support networks and social infrastructure.

We are in the process of updating this page with case studies. Please email Duncan (d.law@communityenergyengland.org) if you have a case study that would illustrate any of the above benefits so we can add it to the page. You can also comment or add benefits (using the 'suggestions' editing mode) in our policy asks working document

[1] https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-05-14/254193/