Lack of government vision hurts community energy sector
Community Energy Organisations faced their toughest year in 2018, according to the State of the Sector Report from Community Energy England.
Investment and new generation took a sharp hit between 2016 and 2018, largely down to the disappearance of support subsidies and lack of clear government vision for the sector. As a result, 69% of practitioners felt negatively about the prospects of the sector.
Many were critical of the government’s lack of acknowledgement for the sector and it’s failure to provide clear leadership. “There is no long-term vision for the energy transition in the UK, despite consensus in other countries. This is shocking given the evidence on climate breakdown.”
The report also notes that the two most common motivations in the sector are to combat climate change and to generate funds for community development. On both these fronts, despite 4/5 drops in investment and new generation capacity, the community energy sector continues to deliver.
In 2018, £978,000 was spent by community funds directly benefiting the community. At the same time community energy companies indirectly benefited their areas through a range of measures including job creation, reducing transport costs, and low cost generation to schools.
The sector has a total of 168MW renewable energy installation and has engaged 128,000 people on energy efficiency projects.
Although Community Energy England suggests that the policy landscape still looks daunting for community energy organisations, there is also evidence that organisations are looking to broaden their scope and plan for non-generating activities and business models.
Among the country’s 275 community organisations 72% were planning low carbon activities in 2019, with many branching out from generation into new areas ranging from heat generation to person to person electricity trading.
Read the full report.