Community energy could become much more than electricity generation in future, with higher rates of energy literacy and a change to energy culture, according to the community energy sector itself.
On 23 July, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) released a report which collated a series of responses from visions and pathways workshops it had ran looking into the future of community energy. The future vision from the sector sees community energy organisations combining multiple business models, retailing electricity to local customers and selling to national wholesalers, while offering local tariffs, using pricing and technical “know-how” to address fuel poverty and the digital divide.
Government action will be required to make this vision a reality, with participants highlighting how “taking climate change” seriously is vital as are setting zero carbon targets for all sectors of the economy. They also called for electricity regulation to allow local supply and be able to take into account factors beyond immediate cost and reliability.
The sector wants more strategic cooperation within itself as well as with potential allies in the wider third sector and small energy companies. On local authorities, the sector was found to be hopeful they would be “brave” and use their procurement and economic development role to support community energy.