What is community energy?
Community energy covers aspects of collective action to reduce, purchase, manage and generate energy.
Community energy projects have an emphasis on local engagement, local leadership and control and the local community benefiting collectively from the outcomes.
Community-led action can often tackle challenging issues around energy, with community groups well placed to understand their local areas and to bring people together with common purpose.
There are many examples of community energy projects across the UK, with at least 5000 community groups undertaking energy initiatives in the last five years. Examples of community energy projects include:
- Community-owned renewable electricity installations such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric generation.
- Members of the community jointly switching to a renewable heat source such as a heat pump or biomass boiler.
- A community group supporting energy saving measures such as the installation of cavity wall or solid wall insulation, which can be funded wholly or partly by the Green Deal.
- Working in partnership with the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to pilot smart technologies.
- Collective purchasing of heating oil for off gas-grid communities
- Collective switching of electricity or gas suppliers.
There are many case study examples of community energy activities across the UK in the Community Energy Call for Evidence, Strategy and Strategy update.
In the following sections there is further information on the options to consider, as well as sources of help and guidance.
Support available for Community Energy
Different types of community energy activity may need different types of support from organisations outside of the community. For example, your Local Authority might be able to provide advice and guidance if you are considering applying for planning permission to do an electricity generation project. You might want to talk to local businesses if you are interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your area to see how they can help.
This page provides a list of the support available through Government-funded schemes to support specific types of community energy initiatives. At the end are links to other non-Government organisations that may be able to offer further advice.
Powering Up conference
The Powering Up conference for local authorities and community energy groups took place on Thursday 4 September 2014 in Oxford. Speakers from pioneering projects around the UK shared their experience and a programme of workshop sessions helped build a practical understanding of how more communities can work together for local energy. A short report, written by Oxford City Council on behalf of the OxFutures partnership, captures some of the highlights of the programme and the notes taken in the afternoon workshop.
Community Electricity and Heat Generation
Community electricity or heat generation can enable communities to benefit from local resources. Renewable electricity and heat generation contribute to the UK’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping your community play a part in reducing climate change. Your community may be able to receive a financial benefit from electricity and heat generation, in addition to other benefits, such as bringing everyone together or engaging people with ideas on how to save energy or money on energy bills.