Report predicts bright future for community energy

Community energy could be powering up to 2.2 million homes within the next 10 years, according to a new report.

The Community Energy 2030 Vision reveals community energy currently generates at least £2.6m to local economies.

According to the report by Community Energy England, community energy generates 265MW of renewable electricity.

It adds that now is the time to ‘recognise the huge potential for community energy to contribute to the energy system and support the sector to reach mass scale’.

And it argues that with the right support, the community energy sector could become 12-20 times larger by 2030.

It claims community energy could contribute 5,270MW, power 2.2 million homes, support 8700 jobs, save 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and add over £1.8bn to the economy each year, according to a recent report by WPI Economics.

The 2030 Vision report has been published alongside Community Energy England’s annual State of the Sector report, which admits 2019 was a ‘challenging year’ for the sector.

It found a total of 300 community energy groups are developing low carbon projects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And the number of community groups involved in low carbon transport projects increased by almost two thirds (65%) in the last year, with 47 communities developing electric vehicles, charging points and other transport projects.

Community energy generation reduced carbon emissions by 65,200 tCO2e, with further savings made through energy efficiency, low carbon transport and energy storage projects, according to the report.

And it found 89 projects stalled 2019 – 64% of which were electricity generation projects – primarily due to limited early stage funding and a lack of financial viability.

The report also said the greatest barriers to community energy in 2019 were found to be the reduction and removal of subsidy support, in particular the April 2020 closure of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme.

‘The continued growth of the community energy sector will depend on the drive, passion and innovation of the communities and people within it, alongside improved government and sectoral support,’ the report states.

‘Maintaining momentum in the face of and increasing barriers to viability as well as the ongoing global health crisis will be the primary challenges for community energy organisations moving into a post- subsidy 2020.’

Photo Credit – PublicDomainPictures – (Pixabay)

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Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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