Community energy organisations offer citizens the chance to own renewable energy assets and develop funds to tackle low carbon issues.
To positively respond to the climate emergency we need to quadruple the amount of renewables in the UK and at such a scale communities need to be engaged. Community-owned energy helps this happen.
Community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which are usually owned by communities.
Community-owned projects keep money in the local economy and reinvigorate communities by bringing people together with a common purpose to reduce the impact of climate change, increase our energy security and address fuel poverty.
Community energy gives local communities greater control over how energy is generated and used and maximises the engagement and benefit from energy projects. The varied activities of community energy organisations to deliver these goals include reducing energy demand, improving energy efficiency and increasing the amount of energy generated locally from low-carbon and renewable sources.
Devon has been leading the way and has 23 community energy organisations active in the area, more than any other county in the UK. Devon County Council has supported the growth of the sector through funding for support services and grants to community energy organisations. Most of these organisations are grass roots and all are highly committed to delivering the social, economic and environmental benefits associated with community energy.
Devon County Council (DCC) provided €70,000 of small start-up grants. DCC invested a total of €120,000 and this leveraged €66,000 of EU funding. DCC facilitated the community organisations in receiving €252,000 of grants from UK government. DCC supported groups through the EU funded SEACS project.
Evidence of success
Devon community energy organisations have:
1. Installed 12.3 MW of capacity through 62 projects, generating 17,431 MWh of renewable energy and saving 6,080 tonnes of CO2e emissions to date
2. Raised €16 million of investment, including €6 million raised through community shares and created 33 FTE jobs
3. Supported 2,717 households with low carbon measures, run 250 events, have 3,457 members, 1,530 shareholders and 297 volunteers
Potential for learning or transfer
The community energy sector has the potential to provide the agricultural sector with the capital investment needed to deliver renewable energy.
Support from regional organisations, such as councils, can deliver a productive community energy sector which can then support delivery of renewable energy generation.
This type of intervention has the added benefits of: increasing awareness in renewables within the region, increasing economic benefits of renewable energy within the region, delivering carbon savings from generation and development of low carbon funds
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