Today sees the release of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Community Energy Strategy, the first such strategy by a British government, and a powerful recognition of the growth and potential of community renewables. The strategy was, in part, shaped by members of the Community Energy Contact Group (CECG) which, included representatives of Transition Network and community energy projects with roots in Transition initiatives. It’s a fascinating example of what it looks like when Transition is able to start influencing (along with a range of other community organisations) national energy policy. As Ed Davey writes in his Foreword, “we want to tap into the enthusiasm and commitment that’s so evident in community groups across the country”.
Among the Strategy’s key recommendations are:
- A new Community Energy Unit in DECC will work with communities and local authorities to provide a step-change in the support offered to community energy projects.
- A new £10m Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF).
- A doubling of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) maximum capacity ceiling from 5MW to 10MW for community projects
- A ‘One Stop Shop’ information resource for community energy, developed with community energy groups using seed funding from government
- The quadrupling of the Green Deal Communities Scheme to £80 million.
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“We’re at the turning point in developing true community energy. The cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets, and I want to encourage groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills. Community led action, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market.”
TransitionNetwork.org asked Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy, who was part of the Contact Ggroup that produced the report, for his thoughts on the final Strategy:
The Community Energy Strategy provides tangible examples and guidance to people, institutions and local government on how community owned renewable energy can flourish to create sustainable environmental, social and financial returns in the UK. The Community Energy Strategy demonstrates communities are already coming together to generate electricity and heat, reduce energy use, save money on the energy they buy, and balance supply and demand. It brings together existing policies and initiatives with new actions to provide a coherent package of support across the spectrum of community energy.
“Local Authorities must back community energy projects in their areas. Their support can make a big difference to the success of community energy projects by providing them with support at key stages in their development. There are several examples of supportive Local Authorities in this strategy, and we want this to be the norm, which is why the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has written to all Local Authorities in England.”