Yesterday I wrote about the importance of community energy projects in the light of the current debate over energy prices. There are a lot more reasons to celebrate community energy and I didn’t want to cram too much into the post, so I thought I’d follow it up with a second post. Here are ten benefits of community energy.
- Reducing emissions – community energy is renewable energy. Or at least I presume so. I haven’t heard of anyone lobbying for a local coal burning power station on their street. Urban projects tend to be solar, rural ones are wind or hydro, but they all contribute to meeting Britain’s CO2 targets.
- Energy security – as the price of fossil fuels rises with global demand, reducing Britain’s dependency on coal and gas is a priority for our energy systems.
- Fuel poverty – Some community energy schemes lower bills, particularly solar. Others pay a share of profits. Either way, they help to make energy more affordable.
- Network efficiency – One of the problems in our power system is losses in transmission. This can be reduced by relocalising production and keeping it closer to the place where the energy will be consumed.
- Household efficiency – one of the proven side-effects of people taking an interest in energy is that they begin using it more wisely. This adds to the carbon savings and lowers bills for people too.
- Autonomy – creating long term income and giving people greater control over the money they spend on energy, while reducing dependence on big and impersonal companies.
- Resilience – With localised production, greater efficiency and greater control of energy, communities are much less vulnerable to price rises in the future.
- Community building – a long term project involves lots of local people and gets them working together, encourages collective decision making and builds confidence. It is empowering and raises expectations about what people can do together. This is particularly important in economically deprived areas, where energy projects can deliver a real boost in self-esteem.
- Sense of place – community energy schemes are always going to be appropriate to the area, since they are managed by the people that have to live with them. There is no danger of big unwanted projects being forced on communities.
- Local economy – community energy schemes create jobs locally, and income from them strengthens the local economy, especially in places where economic opportunities are scarce.
I could probably list a couple more, but it’s neater to leave it at 10. What I haven’t done is give any examples that demonstrate exactly what community energy is, so I’ll do that next time.