Reflecting on Regen’s 20th anniversary at the end of last year, we were prompted to review our role in the community energy sector over the last two decades.

The upcoming year is to be an especially significant one with the run up to a general election and we hope to hear many voices advocating for the community energy sector. We believe as part of our mission-led work that it’s crucial for us to both champion those speaking up and to be one of those voices.  

This year also sees important new funding opportunities for the sector, with the Government’s Community Energy Fund (CEF) for England now in full swing, as well as returning support for Scotland through the CARES funding, and for Wales through the Welsh Energy Service.  

Why do we support the community energy sector? 

Regen sees the community energy sector as a vital part of the UK energy industry. We see the importance that the sector has in: 

  • Developing innovative and pioneering approaches to decarbonisation 
  • Transforming communities’ relationships with energy 
  • Treating positive financial and social benefits to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. 

It is clear to us that community energy is an essential ally for a fair and just transition to a zero-carbon future. At Regen, we strive to maintain a broad definition of community energy to ensure that our support reaches as many initiatives as possible. 

How have we supported the sector? 

Regen’s work spans the entirety of the energy system. Our aim is to empower and upskill community energy groups to directly participate in policymaking spaces. We support this through amplifying their voices in broader policy discussions and by advocating for greater community energy support. Over the years, we’ve witnessed the community energy sector mature and adapt to changes in the wider energy landscape, with Regen’s support evolving alongside.  

A decade ago, our journey began by working with organisations in Devon to build renewable generation capacity. We recognised that our energy expertise could support these groups to develop projects, so we created accessible resources to share our knowledge to similar groups across the country. Many of those early guides are still relevant today, such as Suitable delivery models for community energy organisations. 

Our involvement in the sector grew through innovation projects like the Sunshine Tariff and Open LV. This work helped us to recognise the pivotal role community groups play in leading the just transition. The conversation on how communities can benefit from the energy transition has since grown, reaching the ears of more and more large-scale developers. It is now helping them to understand the importance of engaging and supporting local communities.  

As part of this we have continued to explore the details of implementing local benefits in our offshore and grid work. Examples of this include our thought leadership paper on local benefits for offshore renewables, as well as our consultation responses to community benefits for transmission infrastructure and onshore wind 

Over time we have also tried to help the community energy sector develop and innovate with guides that share best practices such as our recent guide to community heat projects. 

Community Energy support

What is our future role within the sector? 

While there is growing recognition of the financial and social benefits that community energy can create, the sector faces challenges in the current policy and regulatory environment, with minimal support for community business models. As such we back campaigns like Power for People’s Local Electricity Bill and support those seeking alternative approaches to progress. 

Community energy organisations, along with larger bodies like Community Energy England, Scotland and Wales, play a crucial role in highlighting challenges and speaking up for change. We want to see more collaborations between private and community developers, and local authorities and local groups, to ensure communities retain more benefits from the energy transition. 

Moving forward, our role in the sector involves helping community energy groups to grow and innovate by: 

  • Hosting our popular in-person and online events for community networking and learning 
  • Collaborating with distribution network operators to develop community energy strategies and assist with connection challenges 
  • Sharing broad energy expertise to highlight relevant information and potential impacts on community energy 
  • Working alongside other key organisations to continually assess how best we can support the acceleration of new projects 
  • Maintaining a strong community energy voice in all our initiatives 
  • Engaging in innovative research projects to aid sector development 
  • Advocating for increased policy and financial support for community energy. 

To discuss our work in this area, contact our local energy coordinator, Prina Sumaria.


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