A cross-party group of MPs has expressed disappointment that the government has failed to acknowledge the key role community energy can play to help achieve net zero targets.
In a letter to the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, the chair of the environmental audit committee (EAC), Philip Dunne raises concern about the lack of clarity from the government on the role of community energy in decarbonising the energy sector and expresses disappointment that it only received a passing mention in the energy white paper.
The letter argues financial support is needed for community energy schemes to thrive, as occurred under the coalition government.
The EAC has therefore recommended that BEIS introduces a minimum Smart Export Guarantee floor price above zero, and extends the guarantee on the energy export price. The EAC heard that at present the Smart Export Guarantee is flawed because it provides no minimum export price and no long-term certainty beyond 12 months.
Regulatory barriers appear to be stalling any further significant roll-out of community energy projects.
The EAC recommends regulatory and grid-connection barriers are removed to allow community projects to sell their energy to their local communities. Ministers could look to the Netherlands for examples of successful harnessing of this potential.
‘Our continuing inquiry into technological innovations and climate change has shown us that there is no shortage of innovative ideas that could all play significant roles in helping the UK achieve net zero emissions. But what is lacking is government support, a coherent plan, and recognition of current barriers. We have found that community energy is no exception,’ said Mr Dunne.
‘For net zero Britain requires us to change our behaviour and adapt to a low-carbon lifestyle. Community energy can help achieve this – not only powering homes and businesses up and down the country but by engaging local citizens on the benefits of renewable energy and – in many ways – how we can do our bit to help keep the lights on ourselves.
‘I urge the government to consider increasing the role community energy can play, and how we can learn from countries like the Netherlands on how to make it work.’
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