Many manifestos from the December 2019 elections mention community energy.
The Conservative Party
Conservative Party's manifesto does not include any references to community energy, or to solar power. Statements potentially relevant are limited to 'We will establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are under threat – local football clubs, but also pubs or post offices' and 'We will help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals'. The manifesto also states 'We will use our £1 billion Ayrton Fund to develop affordable and accessible clean energy that will improve lives and help us to lead the world in tackling climate change', but initial information on this fund suggests it is focused on creation of new low-carbon technology rather than deployment.
The absence of community energy from the manifesto contrasts markedly with statements from previous Conservative government ministers. For example, the last energy and climate change minister, Chris Skidmore, said ‘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'. Consequently, the attitude or approach of this Conservative government to community energy cannot be determined from their manifesto.
In Boris Johnson's victory speech, he said it was a "sacred trust" to voters to make their priorities for change happen, including the “colossal investments in infrastructure, in science, using our incredible technological advantages to make this country the cleanest, greenest on earth, with the most far-reaching environmental programme” and “to be carbon-neutral by 2050.” (watch, read)
The Labour Party
The Labour Party's manifesto says 'We will expand distributed and community energy' and 'We will invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in electric community car clubs.' This direct reference is notable for the sector but no further details related to community energy are included in the manifesto. However, the Energy section states that Labour will 'develop the recommendations of our ‘30 by 2030’ report to put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s'.
Labour's 30 by 2030 report followed its recent conference decision to go for net-zero by 2030 and said: 'Recommendation 27: Encourage the adoption of distributed and community energy to accelerate delivery of energy decarbonisation’ and ‘Reinstating of the Feed in Tariff, essential for the purposes of supporting residential PV installations and community-scale projects. This change could be rapidly introduced and according to a recent survey would be widely supported by the UK public.’
The Co-Operative Party
The Co-operative Party’s Policy Platform has a whole section on community energy developed in close consultation with CEE. See page 39.
The Green Party
The Green Party manifesto says, ‘The Green New Deal for energy will revolutionise the way we produce and use energy. It will enable communities to develop their own renewable energy projects, so that the benefits of locally generated energy can stay local.’
The Liberal Democrat Party
The Liberal Democrat’s manifesto says:
Renewable Energy. We aim to decarbonise the power sector completely, supporting renewables and household and community energy to create jobs and cut fossil fuel imports; our interim goal is to reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity by 2030. We will:
Accelerate the deployment of renewable power, providing more funding, removing the Conservatives’ restrictions on solar and wind and building more interconnectors to guarantee security of supply; we aim to reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity in the UK by 2030.
Expand community and decentralised energy, support councils to develop local electricity generation and require all new homes to be fitted with solar panels.
Warm Homes and Lower Energy Bills
...by investing over £6 billion a year on home insulation and zero-carbon heating by the fifth year of the Parliament. We will:
Empower councils to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street, which cuts costs.
The Liberal Democrat's Net Zero by 2045 policy paper also mentions community energy several times, but lacks the focus we would hope given Ed Davey’s historical support. At a conference fringe meeting he said 'We should make it a key part of strategy and talk about it a lot' and Wera Hobhouse MP said 'How we energise the community is a key part of how we get to net zero.'