A UK House of Commons enquiry into Local Energy, and a government review of evidence to inform the Community Energy Consultation, have both drawn extensively on research findings produced by CISE project researchers.
The government reports present new findings from groundbreaking research on ‘grassroots innovations’ into the potential of community-led sustainable energy projects to play a part in a transition to sustainable energy in the UK.
The findings point to the small but significant – and growing – role played to date by voluntary organisations and local associations in generating sustainable energy, and reducing energy demand. But it also highlights how under-resourced and vulnerable the sector is, when facing changes in policy targeted at big utility companies, and budget cuts to the organisations who support them on the ground.
Dr Seyfang, who has been leading the research at UEA, commented “we’ve been astounded at the creativity and vibrancy of the community energy sector, and I hope our research will have a tangible impact on the policies that will affect these exciting community projects working towards sustainability.”
The UK community energy sector is extremely diverse in terms of types of organisations involved, and activities undertaken, and mainly consists of small groups run on a voluntary basis. In addition to sustainable energy generated or saved, their benefits include increasing public engagement with sustainable energy issues.
The research calls for increased policy support to help the sector to grow, through funding local and regional networking and mentoring support organisations, and for greater appreciation of the sector’s diversity – one size does not fit all.
House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee (2013) Local Energy. Sixth Report of Session 2013-14. HC180 (Stationery Office, London)
Department of Energy and Climate Change (2013) Community Energy in the UK: A review of the evidence (interim report) (DECC, London)