By Alice Grundy
A national strategy could ‘kick-start’ a community energy revolution, with the potential for schemes to generate up to 5.3GW.
This is according to a new report, commissioned by Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) and produced by WPI Economics, suggesting that community energy schemes could power up to 2.2 million homes by 2030, generating up to 5.3GW.
This could create over 8,000 jobs and inject up to £1.8 billion into the UK’s regions, with the potential for the number of community energy organisations to rise from several hundred today to around 4,000.
SPEN is now calling on the government to allow for faster uptake of community energy through the creation of new, region funding streams and greater support and resource to local community groups wanting to set up schemes.
It is also recommending the government establish a national community energy strategy with a community energy fund, which it says could “kick start a community energy revolution across the UK”.
Lastly, SPEN is calling on the government to learn what it says are valuable lessons from existing communities and local energy support organisations that have successfully implemented these types of projects.
The DNO also committed to launching an educational toolkit, which is set to provide communities with the information needed to get schemes off the ground.
Frank Mitchell, chief executive of SP Energy Networks, said it’s “time for communities to be given a stronger voice in how their areas reach net zero”, with new funding streams and reduced regulation in licensing planning needed to meet that vision.
SPEN is lauding the role of community energy in reaching net zero, with potential savings of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
“As the provider of the energy networks that make this possible, SP Energy Networks is committed to doing more. But we need government and regulators to allow us to do so,” Mitchell added.
In October 2019, the Energy Networks Association announced a series of Community Energy Forums designed to further integrated community energy into its Open Networks Project.
Community energy is also taking a larger role in country-wide supply, with Co-op Energy launching a tariff using electricity solely sourced from community energy projects.