Community energy is an important part of the UK energy picture. Government-commissioned research concludes that, with the right support, UK communities can renewably power one million homes in the UK by 2020. Community energy can range from solar panels on the roof of a village hall to large-scale wind-energy developments. Community energy schemes deliver the following benefits:
Use of local resources: Locally-owned schemes are better at exploiting local resources such as solar, biomass, farm waste, water power, or wind sites which may be overlooked by commercial developers. They bring diversity to the UK’s energy portfolio, building resilience and security.
Attracting new investment: Community energy schemes attract investment from new sources, often local. Given the significant levels of investment required to renew the UK’s energy infrastructure, new sources of finance – such as individual and community investment – are needed.
Funding energy-reduction initiatives: Many of these community schemes use the income generated to fund local energy-saving initiatives such as Low Carbon West Oxford and Hogacre Eco Park.
Helping the local economy: Retaining the revenues from renewable energy projects within the community often leads to significant benefits for the local economy.
Increased awareness of climate change: Community energy schemes can develop ‘energy literacy’ and greater understanding of climate change issues.
Local action on a global issue: Local schemes are a way for communities to make a difference locally on an important global issue.