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Community Energy (R)evolution

published: 2014-02-20 11:35

19th February 2014, London– Community energy schemes in the UK are on the up. Championed by the conservative energy and climate minister Greg Barker, supported by Britain’s first Community Energy Strategy unveiled last month and backed by councils across the UK, we are beginning to see a change in how we as a nation view energy management.

Catalysing factors such as rising energy prices; Citizen’s Advice project that prices have risen by 37% since 2010, leading to fuel poverty; Legal and General MoneyMood Survey showed that 4.98 million households in the UK were in fuel poverty this year as a result of rising fuel bills; and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 80% by 2050, are driving this transformation.

Community energy however isn’t a new concept, a large number of Local Authorities across the UK are already far down the road of investing into community energy.  Bristol City Council is known for leading the way, becoming the first local authority in UK to own a wind farm in 2013.  Greater Manchester City Council had a longstanding district heating masterplan and the Pimlico District Heating Undertaking,owned by Westminster City Council has been running since the 1950s.

What we are currently seeing is the few moving to the many, as Greg Barker put it when he called for a decentralised energy revolution in September 2013, “The Big Six need to become the Big 60,000”.

A key part of this ‘revolution’ is understanding how councils can take charge of their energy supply and overcome barriers standing in their way, an issue covered in today’s Guardian newspaper and to be covered at Decentralised Energy 2014 in May (www.decentralisedenergy.co.uk). Event Director, Claire Poole, who is featured in the Guardian’s Society Pages coverage, expressed the need for Local Authorities to get behind the expansion of decentralised community energy, saying “energy security, jobs, economic prosperity and reducing the number of constituents facing fuel poverty are all within reach”.

This decentralising of energy is reliant on galvanising communities, as Paul Smith, programme manager at Energy Saving Trust Wales put it in the same Guardian coverage, communities have the ability to “bring energy and enthusiasm to projects that are still often a ‘pet’ interest of one or two people.”

To hear from Bristol City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater London Authority, DECC and join 200+ Government, Local Authorities, financiers, technology providers, consultants and corporate businesses driving forward local community energy projects, come to Decentralised Energy 2014 on 13 May at 5* Jumeriah Carlton Tower, London: www.decentralisedenergy.co.uk  With cost rates for Local Authorities and limited places, make sure you reserve your place now.

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