What is Community Energy?
Community energy is about citizens coming together to own, control and benefit from their energy. It includes a broad range of activities and can include renewable energy and heat generation, energy efficiency, demand reduction, behavior change and energy storage. The overarching objective is to tackle climate change but there are many other benefits too, such as lifting people out of fuel poverty and improving the local environment. People and communities are central to community energy. Community Energy England say that community energy projects should be characterized by:
- Democratic control by the community.
- Active participation of the community.
- Sharing of the benefits among the community.
Public Support for Community Energy Projects
Research by Cooperative Energy (2016) showed that 78% of the public think the government should do more to help communities generate their own energy. Furthermore, community energy is beginning to gain the support of MPs. For example, the Conservative MP for St Ives, Derek Thomas, says that:
“allowing communities to make decisions that affect them is at the heart of what it means to be a Conservative” (Conservative Home, 2018).
The Labour Party has also said that they want to devolve “power to local communities, by giving community energy practical support and encouragement” (Labour Party, 2018).
Benefits of Community Energy
Community energy provides a range of benefits. Not only does it provide a sustainable source of energy, it also has benefits for the local community such as tackling fuel poverty. Profits from projects can also be reinvested into the community.
The Policy environment in the UK
The Government has several schemes to help community energy projects. However, a number of policy changes that have made it harder for projects to operate.
What can i Ask my MP to Do?
If you want to talk to your MP about community energy then there are number of policy areas you could focus on. You could even invite them to visit a community energy project in your area.
- Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and Community Energy Scotland are organisations that support community energy projects. Their websites have lots of good research and case studies.
- Cooperatives UK also provide support to community energy groups and have lots of useful information on their website. You can read it here.
- This blog from Mongoose Energy provides a good explanation of the Feed in Tariff.
- This report from Good Energy provides an overview of the state of community energy in the UK and why it can be so beneficial. You can read it here.
- This lobbying pack by the Community Energy Coalition gives some good suggestions for what you could ask your MP to do to help community energy. You can read it here.
If you would like to find out more about working with your MP on other related issues, use the links below:
Last Updated: 30/05/2018