Procurement of skills and technology from the market is an essential part of a community energy project. Good procurement processes aim to help organisations choose the right goods and services with a selection process that is fair and transparent.
This page will introduce some of the key topics around procurement for community groups. This also includes links to a module that discusses the topics in greater depth, and links to other sites with assistance in the process.
Procuring consultancy and other services
Community renewable groups will often need expert assistance with specific aspects of work. This could be in the form of a single consultant covering the entire project, or specialists working on different parts in collaboration. Each has advantages and disadvantages and the procurement module will help your group decide which approach is best.
Procuring the actual renewable technology for a community group is in many ways more straightforward. There are lots of resources online that can be used to contact other groups and get recommendations. For example if you are looking to develop a solar PV system on a community building, there will be lots of other groups who have already completed similar projects and published case studies online for comparison.
The renewable energy association have resources which can help with the procurement process and examples of technology which is accredited. This can guide community groups with the decision of which technology to proceed with. See the further links section and procurement module below for more information.
Setting specifications - the specifications are simply a request for what you want your technology to achieve. You can either ask for specific sized technology that you have agreed on as part of the development process or you can describe what outcome you want to achieve (e.g. 4tCO2 saved annually) and have the installer offer the best fit solution. It is vital for the specification to request a breakdown of the specific costs to allow you to compare options.
Producing an invitation to tender - this is a special procedure for generating competing offers from different bidders looking to win the work. The procurement module provides links to some template invitations to tender (ITTs). Standard templates are unlikely to cover all needs of a typical community renewable energy project, so care must be taken to modify them accordingly.
Issuing ITTs - there are a number of important issues to consider when issuing an ITT
- How many potential suppliers should be invited to tender
- What time-scales are you working to?
- Governance - who is responsible for liaising with potential bidders?
- Clarity on what you want the tendering approach to deliver
- Costs - are you looking for bidders to lead with price, or are you offering to confirm your budget up front?
Scoring and record keeping - it is important to develop a clear scoring matrix that allows the community group to achieve its goals and the applicant to develop a competitive bid. It is also important to set a deadline and be able to justify the decision on which the bid was successful. Finally, all the records of contracts should be kept in an organised, easily accessible location should any future contract disputes arise.
To access the Community Hub Procurement Module - click here
Leapfrog have a community energy guide designed for Local Authorities. This includes information on key issues such as tax, finance, legal structures and procurement.
My Community have a range of guides and case study resources for neighbourhood planning. Communities can received bespoke advice on grants, technical support and procurement via phone and web chat.