What is Community Energy?

Community energy is an all-encompassing term for groups of people coming to together to reduce energy use, purchase, manage and generate low carbon heat and power.

Community energy projects are often delivered collectively by a group or organisation with a focus on engagement, local leadership and strong positive outcomes for the local community. Community groups often have distinct, specific localised goals with an overarching benefit of tackling climate change, energy security and the affordability of energy.

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What’s so great about it?

In the UK our electricity usually comes from big energy companies but what if you could buy electricity from your neighbours or even generate your own? What if paying your energy bills funded good causes in your community? Community energy provides opportunities for social enterprise and can also bring people together for a common cause. Our energy system is undergoing radical change, with smaller companies and community enterprises playing a more and more significant role over time. Be part of the localization and greening of energy production and management!

Energy has real environmental and financial impacts so an energy project can produce very tangible results locally, with a strong link to the global issue of climate change. Rather like learning where their food comes from helps people to waste less food, learning where their energy comes from and how much it costs helps people to waste less energy. A staggering 2.4 million people in England alone are in fuel poverty, so helping people to spend less on energy bills has a big impact on people’s lives, as well as environmental benefits.

Where do I start?

As with any new project or interest group the first step is to agree your aims and what you want to achieve. You can find information and guidance to help you with this in the ‘Getting Started’ area of the Hub. To get ideas you could look at what other communities have done by searching for projects and resources under the type of project that interests you in the ‘Choosing and Developing Projects’ section. You can also use tags to find all resources and projects relevant to the topic you are interested in. Have a look to see if any other projects are active in your area and set up your community profile. To use the Hub to find other communities doing similar things look at the guidance on how to use the Community Energy Hub.

We highly recommend that you talk to your own community about what need there is in the area and what they would like to see happen to address it. Then you can spend some time researching what other communities have done and how they have done it. This could save you a lot of time trying to start from scratch. Use the ideas that you find as a starting point from which to build your own project. We find that communities learn a lot from each other so we have designed the Hub to enable community energy projects to network more easily; don’t be afraid to contact other groups.

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience shared on the Community Energy Hub on all kinds of projects and to help you at all stages of your project. Time to get started!