Community energy is all about collective action to generate, manage and reduce energy locally. A growing number of local cooperatives and social enterprises across the UK are placing an emphasis on local engagement, leadership and control with local communities benefiting collectively from the income derived from renewables such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric power.

Aside from the obvious decarbonisation and democratisation benefits these projects bring, they provide opportunities to deliver lasting economic and social impact locally. The creation of local employment and skills training, securing new funding streams for community support services and fuel poverty alleviation programmes are just some of the ways in which this is happening.

The challenges

Community-owned energy can be a highly efficient, low-cost way of taking practical action on climate change and saving money, in ways that private companies are unable to offer. It also brings people together, gives communities control over where their energy comes from and generates income which can be put to great local causes.

But there are some fundamental barriers which are stifling progress of this bottom-up movement; be it incumbents working hard to maintain a centralised power system, poor public awareness of the new business models that can be deployed, or the time and effort it takes to find and secure viable sites that can be developed on. These sites are often owned by private landowners, commercial companies or local authorities who may be enthusiastic about renewable energy but don’t have the time or expertise to explore options themselves.

What we are doing

PowerPaired

PowerPaired seeks to directly address some of these obstacles. Supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, with funds from Postcode Earth Trust, and Friends Provident Foundation, PowerPaired is an online ‘matchmaking’ service between community groups and the people who own sites that can host renewable energy projects. This might range from a school that can offer its roof for solar panels to a farmer who has space on his land for wind turbines. They can then generate lower-cost power on-site — for a community centre, for example — or wholesale energy that is fed into the national grid.

We would love to hear from public and private asset owners (as well as community energy groups and supporting service providers) interested in knowing more and helping us pilot this innovative project.

Find out more:

PowerPaired will be holding a free online webinar at 2pm, 17th July for community energy groups that are interested in finding out more. To join, click here.

You can read more about how the players of People's Postcode Lottery are helping us scale community-owned renewable energy projects through the PowerPaired platform in these articles: Reinventing Renewables and Inspiring new Generation.

Press release: Matchmaking service for green enthusiasts supported by players of people's postcode lottery.

Interested? Talk to us

The Community Energy Coalition

In 2011, Forum for the Future convened the Community Energy Coalition (CEC), which today brings together more than 30 influential civil society organisations and energy practitioners, such as the National Trust, the Women’s Institute, the Energy Saving Trust, National Union of Students and the Church of England. Representing millions of people across the UK, these organisations are committed to making community energy at scale a reality in the UK by 2020. We use the collective power of CEC members to raise awareness about the benefits of community energy and to influence senior government advisors and politicians.

The CEC played an important role in the development of the first ever Community Energy Strategy launched by the UK government in 2014. Since 2013, Forum has been supporting the annual Community Energy Fortnight programme of events – from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall, from energy efficiency schemes to hydro power plants – helping to engage and inspire the public about the wide-ranging benefits of this form of energy ownership. 

“When I came back [from the 2011 Community Energy ‘seeing is believing’ tour], I was in a position where I could stimulate something within the National Trust. So we now have a renewables programme that is aiming to generate 50% of our energy from renewables by 2020, and that’s started, we’re building things. The inspiration, collaboration and network from that tour was a vital catalyst and spark for that. We need more of that now.”  Patrick Begg, National Trust

More about the Community Energy Coalition

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