By 2030, the number of community energy organisations could reach 4,000 – from several hundred today – boosting local economies by £1.8bn and creating over 8,000 jobs, according to a report.
Published on 13 February, The Future of Community Energy, commissioned by SP Energy Networks and conducted by WPI Economics, sought to set out the benefits the sector could deliver if given appropriate support. It said that community energy schemes could generate up to 5.3GW of renewable electricity by 2030, cut household energy bills by up to £150mn across the country, save over 2.5mn carbon emissions and power up to 2.2mn homes.
The report found that there was now a clear opportunity to develop a new national strategy to kickstart a community energy revolution across the UK. It called on the government to allow for faster uptake through creating new, regional funding streams; by giving greater support and resource to local community groups who want to set up schemes; by establishing a national community energy strategy with a community energy fund; and taking valuable lessons from existing communities and local energy support organisations who have already successfully implemented such projects.
Chief Executive of SP Energy Networks, Frank Mitchell, said: “This report shows just how much potential there is within our communities in our drive to a zero-carbon future, lowering emissions with the additional benefit of driving up skills and jobs across the UK. It also shows what might be possible by highlighting the innovative efforts of communities – notably in Scotland and Wales– where sustained government support and a strong backing from third sector organisations has enabled local energy to lead the way, not only in a UK context but internationally as well.”