Community Energy

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What is community energy?

Community energy refers to community projects or initiatives focused on any one or more of the following strands: 

  • Reducing energy use
  • Managing energy better
  • Generating energy
  • Purchasing energy

Community energy organisations help to deliver a smarter, cleaner energy system whilst generating social benefits.

For more information about community energy, take a look at the Community Energy Hub, managed by Community Energy England.

What is happening in our areas?

Community energy is powering thousands of homes in the South East, East of England and London, according to our new report into local generation published in partnership with Community Energy England and Community Energy South.

UK Power Networks is the first electricity network operator to work closely with South East community energy groups to undertake a comprehensive review of the region’s sector so it can understand more about their needs and aspirations.

The Community Energy Regional Report found that there are 50 different community energy projects connected to UK Power Networks three licence areas. Of the 50, a total of 31 community energy projects participated in our regional report. It was found they generate 14.6 MW of electricity, enough to power 4,200 homes for a year solely off renewable energy and saving carbon emissions equivalent to more than 7,000 flights between London and New York.

Our most active region is the South East, with almost 50 per cent of these community energy projects. London accounts for 40 per cent of the organisations, and the East area is responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.  

Of the 50 different community energy projects, capturing it was found most common type of community energy activity across UK Power Networks’ is Electricity generation, followed by energy efficiency / demand management.

Among the electricity generation projects, solar energy is the most dominant technology, followed by wind projects.

Who we work with

In our areas, there are three distinct umbrella organisations who work with community energy groups to share best practice and nurture collaboration:
 

Our role

Our role in supporting community energy takes several forms:

  1. Collaborate and innovate – we collaborate and innovate with community energy organisations to ensure our services respond to customer needs and we are always looking at new ways to support community energy growth. 
  2. Connect and flex – we facilitate quicker and cheaper connections of community energy projects to the network. We also enable new markets for flexible services like Demand Side Response where we will pay community energy projects for their surplus energy to support the management of our networks.
  3. Educate and support – we provide guidance on how communities can get involved in community energy and useful energy saving tips. We also help protect vulnerable customers during power cuts.

Find out how we as a business are delivering a smart grid that supports community energy FutureSmart.

Want to help us shape community energy?

Community energy has an important role to play in the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. We partnered with Community Energy England and Community Energy South to conduct a survey to understand more about the regional needs and aspirations of community groups from industry and future energy networks. The survey ran from September to November 2018 with thirty-one community organisations responding to the survey of the fifty initially identified – a response rate of 64%. This report details the data gathered from the community energy survey. It will be used to foster an improved understanding of the current state and future of the community energy sector in the South-East, East and London. The report was jointly funded by UK Power Networks, Community Energy England and Community Energy South. The project has been supported by Community Energy London (CEL) and Community Energy East.

Thank you to the of community energy practitioners and volunteers from 31 organisations in the South East, East of England and London who gave their time to take part In this survey. Without your time and efforts this report would not have been possible.


Planning to connect a community energy project?

If you are considering setting up and connecting a community energy project then please get in touch with us.