The UK’s first Community Energy Strategy has been launched to help local communities generate their own renewable energy. Ministers broadened support for community-owned clean energy – such as solar panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric generators – with potential to cut hundreds of pounds a year off bills.
New funding will encourage neighborhoods to share energy-saving advice, make their homes more energy efficient and pursue collective switching from energy providers. The new plans also include an energy-saving competition, offering £100,000 to communities to develop innovative approaches to saving energy and money.
The Community Energy Coalition (CEC), a group of civil society organizations with collective membership of 17 million people, said the scheme could fight climate change, reduce bills and tackle fuel poverty. It includes plans to address barriers to community energy, such as limited grid access, and could revitalize communities through reinvested profits. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s pleasing that the government is finally catching up in at least announcing a scheme to support community energy generation. But it is deeply disappointing that the funding allocated to it is paltry, sufficient for only around 70 schemes around England over the next seven years. Contrast this to Germany where 51% of their vastly larger renewable energy capacity is community owned”, she said.
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the strategy would help consumers “break the grip” of energy giants and will pledge a “decentralized energy revolution.”