During Community Energy Fortnight 2020 we explored how to #HarnessOurPower, to grow our resilience during this crisis and build back better.

Despite lockdown, there was a whirlwind of activity and it was the most engaging and inclusive fortnight to date. There were 25 events, 22 blogs, 6 new launches, 5 twitter takeovers and 5 vidoes, driven by our members and stakeholders. 

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who engaged with #CEF2020 and #HarnessOurPower on social media, organised an event, wrote a blog, made a video, launched something for the sector or publicised the Fortnight to their networks.

Covid-19 and racism have impacted the sector in a variety of ways: highlighting the need for our sector to include every part of communities in a just energy transition, preventing some practitioners' volunteer activities, whilst others have provided a vital service or been a financial lifeline for their communities' mutual aid.

Amongst all the big things happening at the moment, Community Energy Fortnight was a space to connect, share knowledge, build resilience and offer new opportunities to #HarnessOurPower.

Below you'll find a snapshot of all the activity - you can catch up on online events on our YouTube Channel and read all the CEF2020 blogs and news.


Thrive Renewables

Thank you to Thrive Renewables for sponsoring Community Energy Fortnight 2020. Thrive Renewables connects people to sustainable energy, offering accessible opportunities for individuals and businesses to invest in clean energy projects that deliver financial, environmental and social rewards. Thrive is a member of Community Energy England.

If you’re a community energy group looking for project funding, check out Thrive’s Community Energy Funding Bridge.


Events

There were 25 events organised for Community Energy Fortnight, ranging from a wide variety of community energy practitioners and supporters. These included the first Community Energy England policy webinar, the start of a series that will continue soon.

As requested by members, there was an event with Power for the People on the Local Electricity Bill, opportunities to explore how to scale up community energy with the Greater London Authority and Community Energy London, lessons learned from the Next Generation project with Centre for Sustainable Energy, insights shared on the future of community solar with the EU Heroes team and many more.

You can watch recordings of most the events on this YouTube playlist (we will add more as they are made available).


Launches

Transforming Energy: The Power of Local
Bristol Energy Network has developed a toolkit for community groups and local authorities, to help support community groups and local authorities develop their shared journeys to local energy.
Speaking up for our planet: turning talk into action
Co-operatives UK launched their More Than a Shop podcast episode with Louise Marix Evans (Director of Community Energy North and Penine Community Power). It focuses on climate action and climate justice, poses important questions about whose voices are missing in climate activism?
Charge My Street
Charge My Street is a community benefit society that installs and operates community chargepoints, raising money through community shares. They have launched a fund supporting community organisations to install electric vehicle charging points.
Getting Started: How-to Guide for Setting Up a Community Energy Group In London
Community Energy London have created a brilliant How To guide for setting up a community energy group in London.
Legal Structures for Community Energy Projects
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust Wales have launched the first-ever legal roadmap governance advice to support community energy projects in the UK
Guide to Setting up a Local Authority Community Energy Fund
Community Energy London and Islington Council have launched their guide to setting up a local authority community energy fund.
Evaluation summary: Next Generation Energy - interim report
Power to Change launched the first interim evaluation of the Next Generation programme. The report covers the processes used and early outcomes, whilst sharing learning from the programme for the benefit of community groups, policy makers and other community energy supporters.


Blogs

We published 22 blogs for Community Energy Fortnight, providing thought leadership on some of the big questions for community energy. Thank you to all the authors.

We've picked out a few of the blogs below, but you can access them all here.

Kick-start a nationwide home and public sector energy efficiency retrofitting programme
Written by Danni Barnes, Director of Operations at National Energy Action.
Community Energy Co-operators!
Written by Alice Wharton and Isla McCulloch from Co-operatives UK.
Opportunities to get involved with ENA's Open Networks Project
Written by Randolph Brazier, Head of Innovation & Development at the Energy Networks Association.


Videos

We set a challenge to our members to create a visual story for Community Energy Fortnight, sharing what they are up to and their ambitions for the future!

You can watch these videos here - thank you to all the organisations who took part.


Twitter Takeovers

For the first time ever, we let five community energy organisations take over the CEE twitter account. This was an opportunity for community energy organisations to share their voice on the national platform for community energy and to provide a deep dive for our followers to learn more about them and their ambitions for the future. A big thanks to these organisations for sharing their inspiring stories. 

CREW Energy took the opportunity to encourage us to expand the solar panel visual of community energy and shared the many ways that community energy can have a local impact beyond solar.BHESCo used the time to get to into the core elements of what makes community energy great, profiling other community energy organisations and their impact.
Carbon Co-op shared all sorts of information, demonstrating the vital role of retrofit and definitely making us energy efficiency experts!York Community Energy reminded us that community energy is strongest when linking to the climate movement.Low Carbon Hub shared the fantastic things they get up to and the importance of powering up, powering down and innovating.


Key Insights from CEF2020

1. Working with local councils is possible and will likely be a focus for many community energy organisations.2. Community energy is so much more than energy generation. Moving forwards we need to include all aspects of the communities we serve.
3. There is a need for replicable toolkits and guides to support the sector which can help reduce duplication of effort and encourage new entrants to the movement.4. Community energy has a vital role in building back better, just transition and reaching net zero targets. We refuse to be pushed to the sidelines any more.


Community Energy Conference

Community Energy Fortnight was opened and closed by our two-part Annual Community Energy Conference, held online. We would like to add a special thank you to our conference sponsor, Co-op Community Energy, along with supporting sponsors Electricity North West and Northern Powergrid. Many thanks also to the individuals who kindly made financial contributions and to everyone who gave up their time to speak and participate.

Part 1 saw the launch of our State of the Sector Report and the new Community Energy 2030 Vision.  We hope you find this interesting, they both contain vital information about community energy that will be of use for future community energy activities and are published alongside free graphics and slides to use in your own presentations about community energy.

The conferences were powerful spaces, with over 230 attendees over the two parts learning about and discussing current activity in the sector, new opportunities for community energy and ambitious plans for the future. Key themes were:

  • The need for replicable toolkits and guides to support the sector which can help reduce duplication of effort and encourage new entrants to the movement - please contact us or use our Community Practitioner Forum if you have ideas about how we can help.
  • How can we help our society move on from a ‘flick and forget’ attitude to energy?
  • What considerations is your organisation making to ensure every corner of your community is included in the energy transition?
  • When buying renewable technologies, what consideration is being given to the supply chain? See Raid UK and this interesting thesis.

You can find a selection of presentations from part one here and from part two here. You can check out a recording of the events on our YouTube Channel.

Community Energy Fortnight News

Evaluation summary: Next Generation Energy - interim report

 26/06/2020
Evaluation summary: Next Generation Energy - interim reportPower to Change commissi …

Barriers to address for Community Energy

 26/06/2020
This blog was written by Liam Stoker, Editor in Chief at Solar Media, for Community E …

How Electricity North West is supporting communities to #HarnessOurPower

 25/06/2020
This blog was written by Helen Seagrave, Community Energy Manager at Electricity Nort …

First-ever legal roadmap launched to support community energy projects in the UK

 24/06/2020
This article was first published on The Coalfields Regeneration Trust website.The C …