The sleeping giant of community spirit
One of the positive aspects of human nature that has gained attention during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is the power simmering in our communities.
One example could be the people who have joined up to create infrastructure to deliver vital food and medicines to vulnerable people, underlining the love and care for another that such action requires.
This is the concept behind community energy.
In every community, be it a high rise building, a tiny village, a borough or parish, there are people who can contribute something towards helping us tackle the climate crisis locally while improving our collective quality of life.
Because often in our communities, we already have the resources that we need to develop community energy projects: an electrician, a trench digger, an IT specialist, an engineer or city planner.
When people come together, bringing along their unique energy and directing that towards decarbonising their communities by implementing their local plans, this will be the beginning of our transformation to clean, affordable local energy – from the grassroots upwards.
Building on a thriving community energy sector in the UK
There are 300 energy groups across the UK who are already developing successful projects to transform their local energy supply away from one dependent on planet heating fossil fuels, in addition to optimising the thermal efficiency of their homes.
Most community energy groups are founded by one or two passionate people who recognise the technological innovations that exist today have created an enormous opportunity to decarbonise our energy infrastructure.
They know that in order to get this transition moving, they must start developing projects locally. Then they start to bring in a community of interested participants. These people may be a neighbour who happens to be an engineer and another who is a project manager or logistical planner to develop clean energy projects.
Then the group finds help within the community energy network to engage the specialist contractors, either within or outside their communities to help them deliver on their targets ultimately leaving a climate stabilised planet for future generations. This is our duty.
By working together with their experienced local or regional community energy group, local authorities can lower the cost of developing their projects, streamlining their plans so that the process is carried out in a way that is affordable to the customer, as well as the taxpayer.
Can community energy projects be profitable?
You may be wondering how a commercial, profitable enterprise can emerge from these behaviours that support social justice and equity in the provision of clean, affordable heat and electricity to households. In fact, many community energy groups are demonstrating that this can be done successfully.
The largest group in the UK, Energy4All, has raised over £81 million in equity since its inception. BHESCo, who’s strategy is to scale up the decarbonisation of heat, has raised £1.5 million in five years.
Community energy is a high growth industry, a local energy solution, delivering clean affordable energy for everyone that deserves our attention and commitment if we are to gain the benefits that coming together to solve problems will bring.