At the start of June, Regen hosted an engagement event on the government’s call for evidence on the barriers to community energy. The feedback received from the 86 delegates at this event, as well as engagement with members and our wider network of stakeholders in community energy, has fed into our response.

Many of the changes for a net zero future, such as switching the way we heat our homes and changing our habits of energy consumption, require a strong, trusting relationship between individuals, communities, government and the energy sector – a role that community energy organisations are perfectly placed to fill.

Yet, despite many successful examples, the sector in the UK has not progressed at the pace it could have, due partly to broader difficulties facing the energy sector in the net zero transition, but also to some unique challenges facing community and local projects.

In our response to the government’s recent call for evidence on the barriers to community energy, we’ve focused on the challenges facing generation projects, on the basis that the barriers around energy efficiency and retrofit require wider system change not specific to community energy.

Our response identifies three key areas of action to support the growth of the community energy sector:

  1. Lowering the cost and complexity of planning and connecting projects. For example, giving weight to community ownership through national planning policy and prioritising community projects in the grid connection queue.
  2. Greater, and more consistent, access to funding. For feasibility and core resource as well as low-cost finance for developments.
  3. A simple price support mechanism. This would provide long-term contracts at a level that recognises the wider social and economic benefit of community and local schemes.

To overcome these barriers and make community projects economically viable, the sector needs more supportive regulation and policy co-designed with the sector, as well as further resource and capacity for community organisations working on net zero.

Regen urges the government to produce a policy framework that re-focuses on community energy in England, building on the lessons from Scotland and Wales, to provide clarity, direction and stability to the sector. We will be looking to work with the next government to develop and support an ambitious vision for the role that community energy can play in the energy transition in England.


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