This year’s celebration of co-operation provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on the inclusive, people powered community energy sector.
Community-run energy organisations in the UK are spearheading a power revolution, with inclusion and co-operation at its core. They emphasise community leadership, giving people the opportunity to own, control and benefit from their energy.
To date the sector has raised over £190 million worth of investment – mostly from ‘community share issues’ where local people raise pool their resources to raise finance – and have built enough energy capacity to meet demand from every home in a city the size of Cardiff.
The co-operatives we at Community Energy England represent may be generating renewable energy, delivering energy efficiency, or both. Just as important though are the wider benefits that these projects deliver. These can be as varied as tackling fuel poverty, job creation, improving the local environment and delivering education initiatives.
There are so many inspiring examples out there but one in particular that really emulates the ethos of Co-operatives Fortnight is the Carbon Co-op.
"Carbon Co-op started with just a small number of householders wanting to improve their own homes. Now they are working across Manchester."
Established in 2008, the Carbon Co-op is a group of Greater Manchester residents who began to carry out changes in their own houses and communities to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency retrofit and other innovative measures. They have since teamed up with housing specialists to look at what more can be done across the city.
The Carbon Co-op is owned and run by the householders who use it. They believe the process of improving homes to 2050 standards will be quicker, easier and cheaper by working together, teaming up with friends and neighbours to share experience, knowledge and reduce costs through bulk purchase.
Building upon their own experiences, Carbon Co-op is now piloting a community smart grid project called NOBEL GRID with 200 householders, assisting them to work together to save energy, reduce bills, reduce carbon emissions and to challenge existing business models and work practices.
Carbon Co-op started with just a small number of householders wanting to improve their own homes. Now, through the spirit of co-operation, they are working across Manchester to help others to tackle their energy bills.
Community Energy Fortnight this year coincides with Co-operatives Fortnight. Starting last Saturday we will be sharing stories of co-operatives and other community-led projects that are striving to creative positive change in their local areas.
Emma Bridge is the CEO of Community Energy England.