‘Government’s lack of strategy is halting the growth of community energy’

EAC urges the government to consider increasing the role community energy can play for the UK’s net zero

Festival Net Zero 2021

Government lacks clarity and a clear strategy regarding the role of community energy in the decarbonisation of the energy sector, the Environment Audit Committee (EAC) suggests today.

In a letter to the Business Secretary, EAC Chair Philip Dunne express disappointment that community energy had only a passing mention in the Energy White Paper.

The body stresses there are certain regulatory barriers, like the Smart Export Guarantee that halt a significant rollout of community energy projects.

The committee notes further financial support is needed to encourage more community energy schemes.

Highlighting the example of the Netherlands, EAC also recommends regulatory and grid-connection barriers to be removed to allow community projects to sell their energy to local communities.

EAC Chairman Rt Hon Philip Dunne said: “Our continuing inquiry into technological innovations and climate change has shown us that there is no shortage of innovative ideas that could all play significant roles in helping the UK achieve net zero emissions.

“But what is lacking is government support, a coherent plan and recognition of current barriers. For net zero Britain requires us to change our behaviour and adapt to a low carbon lifestyle.

“Community energy can help achieve this, not only powering homes and businesses up and down the country but by engaging local citizens on the benefits of renewable energy and in many ways how we can do our bit to help keep the lights on ourselves.”

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We all have a part to play in tackling climate change and the government recognises the important impact community energy schemes can have in prompting behaviour change and supporting the UK’s drive to end our contribution to climate change by 2050.

“Our £10 million Rural Community Energy Projects Fund is supporting communities across England to develop green energy projects to help cut emissions, reduce energy costs and even generate income by selling energy back to the grid.

“So far the scheme has supported the development of 135 projects, with more on the way, creating jobs and levelling up our regions as we build back better and greener from the pandemic.”

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