community energy challenge
Last week, leading figures from The Co-operative; the National Trust; The National Federation of Women’s Institutes; the Church of England and Campaign to Protect Rural England met with Chris Huhne, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to launch their joint ‘vision for community energy’, which supports dramatically scaling up the number of community owned renewable energy projects across the country, and to discuss how the Government can best assist.
At the same time, local energy schemes will receive another boost today as The Co-operative launches its Community Energy Challenge, a competition which will result in six communities across the UK receiving support to set up their own energy projects. The Co-operative is setting aside £1 million in 2012 to support community energy. This will involve everything from mentoring for start-ups through to the underwriting of co-operative share offers in local co-operatives.
Video: Co-op bank funded community energy project
Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative, says: “We want nothing less than a clean energy revolution, with communities controlling and benefiting from their own renewable energy. Talk of a new dash for gas from shales, which could see up to 3,000 wells installed across the UK, highlights the choices we face – more and dirtier sources of fossil fuels or clean energy owned and controlled by communities.”
Patrick Begg, Director of Rural Enterprise at The National Trust, comments: “Many other European countries are way ahead of the UK, as we found out when visiting German communities last year. Germany produces over 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, with communities generating about a quarter of this. In the UK, less than 1 per cent is generated by our communities, a figure this coalition wants to dramatically increase by 2020. Today we are asking the Government to support us in this.”
The coalition, which is also supported by the Woman's Institute and the Church of England, see community involvement in renewable energy projects as a way of defusing NIMBY protests. Communitys in Germany generate about a quarter of it's total of 20% renewable electricity whereas only about 1% comes from community sources, a figure the group would like to see improve dramatically by 2020.