Generate energy locally

Reading Hydro
Soaring gas and electricity prices have created a new urgency nationally behind the switch to cheaper, domestic renewable sources. We play a role locally as moving to more secure, low-carbon and lower-cost alternatives also involves people producing and consuming their own energy.

As decentralised renewable energy projects start up, our infrastructure evolves towards better local storage and energy management, which in turn encourages more local energy generation. This virtuous cycle is already in motion – we just need to speed it up dramatically.
Communities have stepped in because increasing control over our energy has improved cost-effective supply to our schools, community buildings and local housing developments. It’s also helping to reduce fuel poverty and to generate funds that can be invested back into the community.

Community-owned renewable energy can take several different forms, from co-operatives to community interest companies (CIC) and community benefit societies (CBS). These community energy projects are typically owned by local people through share offers and co-operative membership, and are led by the local community with member voting rights, board representation and a community fund.

There are around 300 community energy organisations across England. Reading Hydro CBS is a great example, where the completely volunteer-led project team has financed, built and operates a community hydropower plant, generating income and funding new community projects with surplus funds.

Across Scotland there are over 350 community energy projects. Near Cumnock, Netherthird Initiative for Community Empowerment (NICE solar PV) is one of many successful projects involving solar PV installations on community centre buildings that have reduced running costs and lowered emissions.

With around 60 community organisations, Wales has the highest number of community energy groups per person in the UK. Gower Power is just one example of the switch to local energy, with its innovative Gower Power Solar Storage project providing local people with locally produced renewable energy over the local grid.

Do you want to be part of the green energy solution? With the benefits of energy security, clean energy and financial returns to the local economy, these numbers are set to increase dramatically.
Bristol Community Energy Bristol Community Energy
Start something new…

If you’re interested in harnessing the power of your community and generating your own energy, contact your respective community energy organisation in England (Community Energy England), Scotland (Community and Renewable Energy Scheme) or Wales (Welsh Government Energy Service). The Energy Savings Trust has produced this helpful guide to starting your own community energy project as does the Welsh Government. The UK Government website also contains a helpful guide to setting up a community energy project.

Big Solar Co-op is a community, volunteer-led co-operative that’s making it possible for communities to get solar installed anywhere in the UK. Their work is led by a professional team to ensure that the solar installations are appropriate and do the job. If you want to get solar panels installed where you live, they can train you to find potential sites, assess them, and approach the owners. This work is best done as a group of volunteers, as a community solar project.

Inspired? Check out lots of other innovative renewable energy initiatives.

… or join an existing community project:

There are hundreds of community energy projects all around the UK and they’ve always got opportunities for more people to get involved. You could donate some of your time to help run the project or you could consider investing in a local scheme. Find out more about your local energy project (if you’re in England) at Community Energy England or on Community and Renewable Energy Scheme if you’re in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, talk to Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) and if you’re in Wales search online for ‘community energy project near me’.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert in energy or sustainability: a whole range of skills is needed to guarantee the success of projects like these and it’ll also be possible to learn as you go.

Other related community actions: Install low-carbon heating, Insulate our homes

What do we mean by community action?
23 community actions