Community Energy State of the Sector 2021

State of the Sector is the most comprehensive dataset about the community energy sector. For the first time, Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales have worked with Community Energy Scotland to open up the research to include Scottish groups to ensure that an even more robust UK-wide evidence base is provided for why policy makers and other stakeholders should support and engage with community energy.

This year we are delighted to work with Regen to conduct the survey, analyse the data and produce the report, and we are grateful to the report's sponsors, SP Energy Networks and Northern Powergrid.

We are also very grateful for all responses and the time community energy organisations give to complete the survey.

Download the UK report

Download the UK infographics

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State of the Sector 2021 report finds that:

  • Community energy is playing a crucial role in achieving net zero by gaining consent, increasing participation and embedding behaviour change.
  • With the removal of subsidies and other financial support, there has been a shift in the sector away from electricity generation projects, with organisations are refocussing on a whole system approach.
  • Communities have demonstrated significant perseverance and ingenuity and are determined to take action on climate change, despite a lack of UK strategic, financial and political support.
  • An engaged energy citizenry will be necessary for achieving net zero and we are calling in this report for the government to get behind this populist movement, and provide real, demonstrable support for the sector.

Scott Mathieson, Director of Planning and Regulation at SP Energy Networks, said: “We are pleased to sponsor the State of the Sector report for a third year. The data provided by this annual research helps to inform our network investment plans – particularly shaping our support for our communities to help them realise their net zero ambitions whilst benefiting consumers across our licence areas. 

We know that local participation is essential for a just Net Zero transition, and that the community energy sector has an important role to play.”

“It’s welcome to see, for the first time, the three community energy organisations across England, Wales and Scotland come together to look at the cross country picture and we look forward to continuing discussions with groups like the CE bodies who help advise and challenge our thinking as we all must challenge ourselves in the race to tackle the climate emergency”

Anda Baumerte, Sustainability Manager at Northern Powergrid, said: "The transition to a net zero energy system should be fair, inclusive, and benefit everyone. Community energy projects offer an opportunity for all individuals to engage with the energy transition, shape it, and ensure it brings the best value to their community. The State of the Sector report provides a very important insight into the diverse benefits community energy organisations deliver and sets out what this sector needs to thrive. We are proud to be supporting this valuable research."

There is a standalone Welsh State of the Sector report, funded by the Welsh Government, to explore in more detail community energy activity in Wales.

Read a blog by Benny Talbot, Innovation Development Manager at Community Energy Scotland, giving his views on the State of the Sector report.

We have also worked with Electricity North West to produce a focused report for their distribution network area.

Previous reports have been used by local and national government, network operators, MPs, campaigning and environmental organisations, and many other organisations within the sector itself. The data underpins the work of Community Energy England, Scotland and Wales to support the sector and lobby for more supportive policies. Responses provided this year will be added to previous years’ data to form a comprehensive picture of the progress and impact of the incredible work happening across the community energy sector. This will allow the State of the Sector Report to once again educate and influence policy makers and sector stakeholders.

Previous State of the Sector Reports

You can download the 2020 and other previous reports and other Community Energy England publications here.