- About us
- Our work
- Get involved
- Community energy, a magic bullet for a multitude of charitable objectives
- “It's all still to play for" says Co-op Energy's Head of Renewables
- The Ramblers: Protecting the places we love to walk in a changing climate
- Why Community Energy Fortnight is so important - By Emma Bridge
- CEF17 is Powering Together!
- Community Energy Fortnight 2017 dates announced and news of a new collaboration
- The community energy revolution is evolving, and the future’s bright
- Investing in community energy schemes
- Energising faith communities: the Spirit project
- Community Energy - the way forward
- CEF16 dates announced
- The community energy revolution pushes on in face of storm clouds
- Blogs 2015
- Blogs 2014
“It's all still to play for" says Co-op Energy's Head of Renewables
It would not be remiss of those involved in community energy in the UK to feel pessimistic about the future, given the drastic cuts to Feed in Tariffs and the potential removal of embedded benefits by Ofgem, amongst other damaging measures. However, we at Co-op Energy feel there are many reasons to be cheerful and excited about the future of community energy.
Mark Billsborough - Co-operative Energy
We recently announced our new Community Energy Strategy (CES), which sets out our key commitments to community energy and will help us achieve our aim of being recognised as the UK’s leading supporter of locally-generated low-carbon energy.
A key component of the strategy is to further our support for community projects through an increased number of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which provide community groups fair access to the market with open and easily understood agreements. We currently have 40 PPAs with community owned sites and our target is to increase this to 60 by the end of 2018.
Our CES also sets out commitments to further engage customers through revamping our unique and award winning User Chooser facility, where customers can provide us with their preferred sources of electricity. We also are expanding the range of energy-saving products and services we provide on our website.
In addition, the CES sets out our intention to continue to lobby and advocate for positive change at both a governmental and local level, and also reaffirms our commitment to developing and assisting pioneering schemes such as Cyd Ynni by Energy Local.
We have been an active supporter of the Energy Local trial in Bethesda, North Wales. Working with Energy Local, this scheme enables customers to benefit from load shifting at off-peak times and when local, low-carbon generation is active. This can reward customers who are willing to change their energy habits with substantial cost savings whilst also increasing awareness of energy usage and promoting more community owned sites.
Other than the Energy Local model, exciting new opportunities are being explored with regard to demand management and creating a decentralised, smarter grid system.
BEIS, National Grid and Ofgem are all currently considering local market platforms, and how future market systems may look. In almost all of these discussions, locally-generated energy is being recognised as a key component.
The rapid advancement in both domestic and utility scale energy storage is also a cause for excitement and optimism in community energy.
As battery costs continue to come down and the technical aspects become better understood, it will become increasingly prevalent that new community schemes will contain them, and older schemes will be retrofitted with them.
The potential opportunities afforded by energy storage may make previously financially unviable projects a more interesting prospect, even before other aspects such as co-location of renewable energy technologies (e.g. wind and solar) are considered.
It is unfortunate that a subsidy-free future for renewables, both small and large-scale, is highly likely in the UK in the current political climate. Whilst efforts should be made to amend this position where possible, we should be working towards making community projects viable in a subsidy-free environment.
We hope that knowing Co-op Energy are fully supporting community schemes through PPAs and through innovations such as Energy Local will go some way to demonstrate that a future is viable for community energy with or without subsidies.
The Community Energy Conference, organised by Community Energy England and sponsored by Co-op Energy for the last four years, will be held at Manchester University on June 24th and will discuss each of the issues touched on here. It is seen as the premier meeting place for those who are involved in community energy in the UK, and we hope to see you there to help discuss these important issues.
Head of Hedging and Renewables, Co-op Energy