Community energy is all about a group of people coming together, taking action and using local resources to reduce, manage or generate their own energy.
Are there public buildings in your community, like schools or sports clubs, that could have solar PV panels on the roof? Or do you have a natural resource nearby, like a river or a windy hilltop, that could be used to generate electricity with a hydro project or wind turbine?
A community energy project can happen anywhere, from remote villages to city neighbourhoods. And it can involve anything from installing a wind turbine to running an awareness campaign about energy efficiency.
How community energy can help you and your neighbours
Community energy has huge potential to reduce our carbon emissions. The obvious benefit for individuals in getting involved in a community energy project is one of scale. You can achieve more as a collective than on your own.
There are all sorts of other benefits for individuals and the areas where projects are located too, including:
Reduced energy bills.
A boost for the local economy, creating jobs and attracting investment.
A sense of empowerment from the ownership of the renewable energy project.
Potential for income to fund more local projects.
Inspiration for communities to tackle other local issues, like improving transport connections.
Showing everyone – young and old – that change is possible.
How to get involved in a community energy project
If you’re interested in harnessing the strength and power of your community to experience all the great benefits of generating your own energy, Energy Saving Trust has in-house teams who can help you do just that, with advice on setting up groups, feasibility studies, financing of projects and more.
You can find more information about community energy projects in your area from these organisations and schemes, which relate to different areas in the UK.
There are many wind and hydro projects in rural areas, with remote communities making the most of their natural resources to become more self-sufficient: providing their own electricity and generating much-needed income.
But more and more, communities in urban areas are developing renewable energy projects – putting solar panels on the rooftops of public buildings, for example – to improve their neighbourhood and play their part in tackling the climate emergency.
Working with community organisation Egni Co-op, the Welsh Government Energy Service is supporting the installation of 6,000 solar panels on the rooftops of public buildings across Newport: including schools, care homes and a council depot
The solar panels will generate 1,973,000 units of low carbon electricity every year, potentially reducing the council’s carbon dioxide emissions by 348 tonnes per year.
CARES provided funding and support to the Coigach Community Development Company in the installation of a 500kw wind turbine. Through the Feed-in Tariff Scheme, it has generated around £500,000 in three years for community projects
In the coronavirus outbreak, this income was used to provide immediate financial support for local families, whose tourism livelihoods had disappeared overnight