Rachel Coxcoon previews her talk at Ecobuild
Wednesday 5 March, 14.30 - 16.00
Localised/neighbourhood energy solutions
Community energy: localism, not parochialism - community energy as part of the national energy mix
Rachel Coxcoon, CSE’s head local and community empowerment, Centre for Sustainable Energy
With the recent publication of the government’s Community Energy Strategy, now is the time to make sure that community energy really comes of age itself, and communities start engaging in really strategic local energy planning with an eye to national needs.
We need to get community groups, and the local government officials that serve them, thinking far more strategically about the renewable energy resources available to them and how best to maximise that potential, for local benefit and national need.
More and more often, we hear of community groups in small rural settlements who want to develop, for example, a 250kW turbine because the potential output roughly equates to the electricity consumption in their community. But this “island mentality” planning, at the parish level, risks seriously under-developing the real resources that we have available nationally. And there are two important reasons why this sort of approach is wrong. First, community energy projects will never be considered by the DECC as a useful contributor to our overall national energy generation targets if local communities are unable or unwilling to think with the national picture in mind. In the long run, government support for community energy activity will be minimal if that approach is taken.
Second, communities that take this approach are doing themselves a disservice. There is no other area that offers communities such an amazing opportunity to develop, own, reinvest the significant income generated from infrastructure. Why sell your local community short? This talk will look at using local planning tools to achieve better planning for community energy.