Government told: ‘open shop’ for community energy

Government needs to radically overhaul the way energy is generated in the UK by giving communities a bigger role, according to a new report. Thinktank ResPublica has brought out a […]

Register now!

By Vicky Ellis

Government needs to radically overhaul the way energy is generated in the UK by giving communities a bigger role, according to a new report.

Thinktank ResPublica has brought out a paper, backed by environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth, which recommends opening up the energy market’s “closed shop” so community energy projects can get a look in.

Around 99% of the UK’s energy is currently supplied by the Big Six energy firms.

The Government’s current plans for Electricity Market Reform are trying to redress that balance and industry watchdog Ofgem is pushing for a more open market, although some critics say the regulator is “toothless”.

The report says the Government must “broker in the social, environmental and economic benefits of community energy” by putting local groups at the heart of the development of new projects. It suggests communities could eventually own their own local grid network.

Ed Mayo, ResPublica Fellow and Secretary General of Co-operatives UK said: “This report is right to call for 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.”

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker gave a nod to community projects last week when announcing new FiTs tariff levels. This week he welcomed the report’s stance on communities.

He said: “The Government is making huge changes to the UK’s energy system, including reforms to the electricity market… and the Green Deal, the biggest home energy efficiency drive since the Second World War. I want to make sure that local communities are at the heart of this energy revolution, and this funding will help make sure that can happen.”

DECC recently announced allocations of the £10m Local Energy Assessment Fund.