Following the success of its 2013, 2014 and 2015 national events, Co-operative Energy and Community Energy England organised the 2016 Community Energy Conference titled ‘Powering Forward – rebooting the UK’s community energy sector’.
The community energy sector in the UK has never been more successful, vibrant or relevant. This year will see record levels of activity and the sector finally beginning to make a real impact. But these programmes are underpinned by finance and support that has been secured under now defunct Feed-in Tariff (FiT) subsidy and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief regimes. The sector therefore needs to develop radically new models of operation if it is to continue moving forward apace.
The Conference ‘Powering Forward - rebooting the UK's community energy sector’ explored the options for development of these new models. What role can local government play? How will the crowd-sourcing of finance change? Do demand management and storage provide radical new options? Can the EU's new Renewable Energy Directive offer new impetus?
These and other questions were explored at what has become the UK’s largest and most exciting annual gathering of community energy practitioners. The following topics were discussed by eminent practitioners during the event:
- "The need for new approaches": Ramsay Dunning, Co-operative Energy
- "The state of community energy in the UK": Emma Bridge, Community Energy England
- "Storage opportunities for community energy": Joe Warren, Powervault
- "Shifting demand to progress local energy - a community endeavour": Mary Gillie, Energy Local
- "Rising to challenges - the German Experience": Dr Andreas Wieg, German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation
- Bringing community energy to the retail market:
- Mark Billsborough, Co-operative Energy & Jon Halle, Sharenergy & Small Wind Co-op
- Community energy and local authorities - working better together:
- Dan Nicholls, Cornwall Council & Mairi Brookes, Oxford City Council & Will Dawson, Forum for the Future
- Working with the FCA and Companies House:
- Malcolm Lynch, Wrigleys & James Wright, Co-operatives UK & Andrew Clarke, The Resilience Centre
- Lobbying for change:
- Kathy Smyth, Community Energy England & Robert Proctor, Community Energy Wales & Paul Monaghan, Co-operative Energy
- Tackling fuel poverty and community-led energy efficiency:
- Kayla Ente, Brighton and Hove Energy Services Coop & Richard Watson, Energise Sussex Coast & Graham Ayling, Energy Savings Trust
- Financing community energy:
- Lisa Ashford, Ethex & Jake Burnyeat, Communities for Renewables & Alex Germanis, Pure Leapfrog
- Why Europe still matters:
- Siward Zomer, REScoop and De Windvogel & Josh Roberts, ClientEarth
- Community and local heat:
- Mike Smyth, Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat Co-op & Michael Beech, OST Energy
All of the above sessions have been written up into the post event report.
There was also a Question-time panel discussion: "What will community energy look like in 2020?" featuring
- Afsheen Rashid, Repowering London
- Dan Nicholls, Cornwall Council
- Mike Smyth, Energy4All
- Siward Zomer, REScoop and De Windvogel
Following the conference the Community Energy Awards took place celebrating the successes of the previous year.