The government must radically overhaul the ‘closed shop’ energy market by unleashing the community sector to enable more people across the country to play their part in developing a clean energy future, says a new publication from ‘Big Society’ think-tank ResPublica.
The report warns that failure to recognise and back the UK’s huge community energy potential could have serious consequences on the government’s climate change, emissions and fuel poverty targets. Community generation in Germany contributes one-quarter of all renewable energy - in the UK it’s less than one per cent. It sets out a series of recommendations designed to open up the energy market which is dominated by the Big Six energy companies and says that the government must “broker in the social, environmental and economic benefits of community energy.”
As Ed Mayo, ResPublica Fellow and Director General of Co-operatives UK, puts it:
“Intelligent nudges to make it easier for people to come together, reversing decades of energy policies limited to 'big is beautiful'. Everyone benefits if we can draw community energy production into the centre of the new energy economy."
Here at Good Energy we couldn’t agree more, and the report also floats a number of other exciting ideas. These include the idea that the government should do more to recognise ‘hybrid’ projects where developers work more closely with communities near renewable energy projects “to enable crucial partnerships for future sustainability and local growth.”
We’ve always recognised the huge potential for a local, homegrown energy future, and have worked with a range of community generators such as Ovesco and River Bain Hydro, over the years. That work has allowed us to witness first-hand the benefits of connecting communities with the energy they use, and seeing how generating power from the people works in action.
The report is a great example of the kind of fresh thinking we need if we are going to meet the energy challenges we face. We want to see an energy market that puts people and communities in the driving seat, not faceless corporations, so we look forward to hearing more from Respublica and others in future.