The Opportunity for Community Energy
(extract from Community Energy England website)
Everything comes within the compass of climate change. This is an opportunity to re-imagine the way we do everything. If combined with a good Climate Emergency Plan of Action, the Declarations have the opportunity to galvanise action within the council and in the community. Community energy can be indispensable to both; it is key that community energy features, with justifications, in those plans even if community energy does not yet exist in that area.
How can Community Energy contribute to the Climate Emergency (at a local level)?
Community energy is well placed to engage the passion, local knowledge, expertise and capital of local people to install community-owned and controlled renewable energy. Community energy is also proven to be at least 25% better at engaging with the community on energy (e.g. conducting energy audits, installing smart meters, etc.) than the large energy companies or government. On top of that a government-commissioned report in 2014 showed that community energy delivered 12-13 times the community benefit of a commercial energy installation. According to the Committee on Climate Change’s Net-Zero report in May 2019, 62% of all measures to achieve the target are dependent upon behaviour change.
Community energy is also doing some ground-breaking energy efficiency and fuel poverty work.
Community energy should be central to any Climate Emergency plan and resourced and supported appropriately by the relevant level of government. Local authorities should engage with, resource, offer sites to and invest in local community energy groups. Councils can also be instrumental in starting local community energy where none exists as happened very successfully in Plymouth; see this TED talk.