Community Energy England Conference Report 2017


The Voice of the Community Sector

Community Energy England was established in 2014 as a not for profit organisation, set up to provide a voice for the community energy sector and help create the conditions within which community energy can flourish.

Community Energy England Conference 2017

The conference was well attended with lots of enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers and delegates. I will circulate links to the session presentations when I receive them or see them on the CEE website. I also have some handouts which I will circulate. Meanwhile a few bullet points from the sessions and people I met.

Co-op Energy

David Bird gave a presentation on the energy supplier established by The Midcounties Co-operative. They are keen to enter PPA’s with community energy groups, offering simpler and longer agreements.

Community Energy England State of the Sector Report

  • We contributed to the survey on which the report was based.
  • 222 organisations with 121 MW capacity and 265 GWh of electricity generated.
  • £190m invested in 269 projects and £620k community benefit distributed.
  • 127 staff employed.

Renewable Energy Association

Nina Skorupska gave an interesting scene-setting address.

  • Carbon reduction and renewable programme driven by Climate Change Act 2008 (aims for 57% reduction in CO2 output by 2030) and EU Renewable Energy Directive (15% renewable energy by 2020) but concerns about direction of UK Govt policy and impact of Brexit.
  • Progress being made in reaching target for electricity generation but much more progress needed on buildings and transport.
  • 125,000 people employed in renewable energy sector in UK.
  • BEIS and Ofgem support the idea of a smarter more flexible approach to energy generation and distribution, but much clearer strategy needed for creation of a decentralised energy distribution network and market reform to reduce the power of the large energy supply companies.

Carbon Co-op Manchester

  • Involved in Nobel Grid, a Europe wide study aimed at encouraging clean energy generation, fair distribution of the benefits of electricity distribution, and smart meter and smart grid technologies.
  • Activities in Greater Manchester include Bury Community Hydro (with local network), Biomass Energy Co-op (using coffee grounds) and their own energy efficiency programme.
  • Encouraged that Centrica are pulling out of large scale electricity generation, and the dynamism and collective approach of the Community Energy Movement.
  • Every Home Matters (the Bonfield Review into energy efficiency in homes) delayed by lack of direction by government. Statistics show that the number of UK households being helped by government to improve their energy use fell 75 per cent since 2012.

Network Innovation for Communities

This Ofgem funded programme for engaging community groups in looking at new ways to encourage consumers to reduce and change pattern of energy use was widely criticised by delegates for for lack of focus and clear outcomes, and wasting the time of CE groups, particularly as new renewable schemes often end up funding network improvements to allow schemes to be connected to the grid. More effective to target large industrial users to change patterns of use and to invest in a programme of network reinforcements and storage.

Raising Finance for Community Energy

  • Josh Brewer of Ethex, an ethical investment company spoke about some of the projects they have raised finance for and their research “understanding the positive investor”.
  • 19.5 m people in the uk interested in positive investment.
  • 58% of investment in renewables comes from local area.
  • Need to keep investors informed and be realistic about returns.
  • Jonathon Hick of Social and Sustainable Capital spoke about their role in providing gap funding for renewable projects: short term up front funding or as part of a broad mix of funding.
  • Opportunities in projects with PPA with host building, battery storage and community buyouts of commercial solar farms.
  • Challenge in declining wholesale energy prices.

Brighton Energy C-op

Very active group with many large projects and full time staff. Will Cottrell gave one of the closing addresses and I also spoke to Matt Brown on his work on large scale solar projects with Genfit. Amongst other things Will spoke about their project to power electric buses from solar panels on the roof of the bus station (the solar panels funded by a combination of crowd-funding and m+s grant; buses funded by £250k bond issue) and the work on issue of solar panel kits and arranging solar workshops at a local anti-fracking camp

BHA Hydro Network 2017-06-26

Conference on 29th June, but £275 to attend.

LED Lighting

Met someone from Durham County Council who has run projects on this and I will email him for more informnation.

Stephen Savory Chester Community Energy 26/06/17