Community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which are usually owned by communities.
Community-owned projects keep money in the Devon economy and reinvigorate communities by bringing people together with a common purpose to reduce the impact of climate change, increase our energy security and address fuel poverty.
For a typical community-owned renewable energy scheme, the finance for purchasing the equipment, for example, solar panels or a biomass boiler for a community building, is raised through a share offer which enables local people to own part of the installation.
Revenue from selling the energy is used to maintain the equipment, provide a modest return to investors and establish a community fund that can be spent on other local priorities, such as helping vulnerable people reduce their energy costs. The building occupier benefits from reduced-cost energy and the environment benefits from low carbon energy production.
Community organisations generating energy and/or providing energy advice in Devon include:
- Plymouth Energy Community
- South Brent Community Energy Society
- Exeter Energy Community
- Teign Energy Communities
- Tamar Energy Community
- Totnes Renewable Energy Society
- South Dartmoor Community Energy
- 361 Energy
- Yealm Community Energy
Devon Community Energy Impact Report
The 2018 Report, commissioned by Devon County Council and Regen on behalf of the 23 community energy groups across the county, shows how Devon is taking a leading role in the UK’s community energy revolution, and demonstrates the environmental, economic and social benefits that community energy projects are providing throughout the county. Devon County Council has contributed to this success through offering grants, training opportunities, consultancy support and networking since 2011.
SEACS Project Toolkit
We supported community energy groups through the EU joint-funded SEACS project which ran from 2011 to 2014. Tools and case studies have been included in the SEACS Project Toolkit which includes information on:
- Raising awareness and starting the conversation
- Building capacity
- Partnership working
- Establishing a legal entity
Community Energy Accelerator
The RegenSW Community Energy Accelerator Project ran from June 2014 to June 2017 and incorporated the Devon Community Energy Accelerator Fund, administered on behalf of Devon County Council by RegenSW. The fund provided over £62,000 of small start-up grants to community energy groups in Devon. A summary report of the Accelerator activity funded by Devon County Council is available here.
Online checklists to help community energy groups through their journey are available from RegenSW, many of which were developed through the Accelerator project.
The experience of some of the community energy groups engaged on the Accelerator has been captured in a video which highlights the opportunities available to community energy groups as well as the challenges that Devon County Council is helping local communities overcome.
Community Energy Legal Toolkit
We have prepared a Community Energy Legal Toolkit to help community energy groups understand good practice in developing community energy projects so that their community’s interests are properly protected. The toolkit presents four flowcharts, each of which describes the process for developing a different community energy project – wind, hydro, rooftop solar PV and ground mount solar PV – from convening an enthusiastic group through to commissioning the scheme.