In 2014, the government set out a strategy for a million homes to be powered by community energy schemes by 2020, according to the Community Energy Manifesto produced by a coalition of 20 community energy projects and affiliated groups. “Four years on, that vision has been abandoned with only 67,000 homes powered by community energy,” the manifesto says. “The scrapping of the strategy and the reduction in feed-in tariffs means community energy groups are now struggling to develop viable projects.”

As I noted in an earlier post, local energy projects are having problems, but the positive vision remains clear. As Community Energy England says, “community energy schemes break down barriers, showing local people how renewable energy can work and benefit everyone.” The Manifesto calls on the government to account for the wider economic and social value of community-scale projects in its review of energy market design, and wants new pilot programmes and capacity-building to help scale it all up.

A linked Green Alliance report, Community Energy 2.0, looks at specific ways ahead, offering something of a new approach. “The UK’s energy transition, spurred by regulation, is moving fast and disrupting the existing centralised energy system,” it says. “New economic value in this emerging order will lie in providing clean, flexible, cheap and local energy to households and businesses.” Community projects can help. “As trusted intermediaries between consumers and the energy system, they can ensure consumers get maximum value from the transition,” the report says. “By targeting energy programmes, particularly energy efficiency, at the right households, they can protect the poor and the vulnerable from being left behind. By aggregating domestic energy assets and providing ancillary services to grid operators, they can generate new revenue to benefit local communities. And, as active owners and partners of renewable energy generation, they can develop new business models to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK economy.”

Read more at Physics World