Community energy for me means the shift away from centralised, corporate ownership of the production and distribution of energy towards community, decentralised not-for-profit ownership.
It is the transition from a carbon based energy system to a system of distributed generation of energy generated from renewable sources- Solar PV or Thermal, heat pumps, wind turbines (off-shore and on), biomass, wave and tidal power.
For a project or organisation to describe itself as being part of the Community Energy sector, it must have certain characteristics.
- it must be owned and/or democratically accountable to the community in which it operates – ideally both.
- it must re-invest any surplus they generate from their activities back into the community it serves – either helping to reduce energy use or developing more renewable energy capacity.
- there should not be any barriers to members of the community participating in the projects and the active participation of community members should be encouraged.
- It’s activities must bring tangible benefits to the community in which it operates; reducing energy demand or cheaper energy tariffs.
- it must deliver a financial return to investing members and other investors.
The money circulated from the activities of generating, supplying and saving energy are captured and retained in the locality.