What is Community Energy?

Communities all over the UK are leading the way to more sustainable generation and energy use.

‘Community energy’ is when local people work together to build renewables or support households in reducing their consumption. It often refers to community-led generation projects, for example a wind farm or solar panel project which members of the community part or fully own.

For example, Grimsby Community Energy have had numerus solar panel projects at local places such as St Andrew’s Hospice, The Rock Foundation, YMCA Humber and CATCH generating over 157MWh to date!

In most community-energy initiatives, members have a say in how the project is run, and what local or social benefits they’d like to see from it.

Why is community energy important?

Community energy moves us towards renewable and clean energy generation and use – supporting our transition away from fossil fuels and towards net zero. By giving local people power and control over the energy system, it can build our resilience and energy sovereignty.

Community energy offers an opportunity to challenge our assumptions about energy by encouraging us as individuals to take greater control over energy supply and get involved and engaged with energy efficiency and the process of demand reduction.

Where successful, community energy has the potential to draw people in, not just as consumers but also as active participants, or partners, in a process of change.

Community energy has the potential to do this by creating a sense of collective purpose where:

  • I see ‘People Like Me’ involved, whether family, friends, neighbours, community members, work colleagues
  • I keep hearing about opportunities for involvement through many different local routes, its stops being unusual and becomes ‘What Happens Around Here’
  • I trust the people delivering the projects, I see them around, they’re local
  • I can see tangible benefits for my local area
  • I can see tangible benefits for me

This sense of collective purpose can help to normalise the adoption of demand reduction behaviours and encourage the take up of energy efficiency measures. If successful community energy can also help to underpin the more rapid role out of a decentralised energy supply system by giving local people a stake in the outcome.

Community energy enterprise offers a way of doing business that focuses on covering operating costs rather than maximising and distributing profits. This enables community enterprise, for example, to offer income back into local communities many times more than the community payments offered by traditional renewable energy developers.