A beginner`s guide to community energy

A beginner`s guide to community energy

Energy prices are on the rise. It was announced in February by Ofgem that 15m households will see their energy bills increase by more than £100 a year as of April 2019.

The reason for this rise according to Ofgem, is due to an increase in wholesale costs of big energy suppliers. This announcement came only a month after the government promised to cap energy bills. Further, based upon future predictions, energy prices could rise by 30 % by 2025.

Information source: UK Power

So how can you safeguard yourselves from these price hikes?

One solution could be for you to get people in your area involved in a community energy project. These can help protect you from future price rises and also have a wide variety of other benefits for the community.

What is community energy?

Community energy covers aspects of collective action to reduce, purchase, manage and generate energy.

Projects involve local engagement, leadership and control with the local community benefiting as a collective from the outcomes. They can therefore bring people together with a common purpose.

These projects can take shape in many forms. For example, a community could come together and put money towards a community-owned solar panel farm or towards a few wind turbines.

Why Community energy?

Firstly community energy projects will generate electricity for the whole community or will reduce the average energy bill for households signed up to particular project. At times of low demand it is possible that excess electricity can be sold to the grid in the form of energy exports. The profits are then shared equally amongst the community. This enhances the energy security of the whole community and also safeguards the community from future energy price hikes.

Further, to use the example of solar power: whilst individual households may struggle to retrofit solar panels individually due to cost barriers, if the community comes together then the costs of implementing solar panels can be shared evenly; making it more affordable for your average household.

These projects are not simply about saving money however, it is also one of the best ways for proactive citizens to influence their communities and to make a real difference in the fight against climate change. This impact can be much greater than an individual making lifestyle changes to reduce his or her carbon footprint.

Community energy projects are also a great way of accelerating the rolling out of small and medium scale renewable energy technologies. These technologies have a number of advantages such as a reduction in transmission losses due to generation taking place next to the point of consumption. Therefore, by signing up to a community energy project, you can lead the way in localising energy production and lead the way in making the energy system cleaner and more efficient. Find out more about this in our blog ‘what assistance is available for community energy projects’.

However as is pointed out by Duncan Clark, the benefits of community energy projects go way beyond their direct impact on climate change, fuel poverty and energy security. In a time where communities across Britain are “increasingly divided and suffering from a lack of collective self-esteem, community energy projects can give normally isolated groups common ground and a basis for trust and friendship.”

The Mozes project, in the Meadows area of Nottingham is a great example of the wider community benefits of local energy projects. To find out more read here (see page 12).

Community energy projects can play an integral part in the fight against climate change. They can safeguard consumers from future energy price hikes by bringing the production of electricity into the control of citizens as well as improve the social cohesion of a given area by bringing people together with a common purpose. If you want to make your community more resilient and protected from future energy prices, maybe community energy is the right fit for you.

To find out more about community energy projects and for information on how to set one up, click here.

Related blogs

What assistance is available for community energy projects?

West Solent Solar: community at the heart of local energy project

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.