Community Energy England are the umbrella organisation for CE organisations nationally and are a fantastic source of information. Their ‘State of the Sector’ reports offer an excellent oversight of the CE sector and would be a valuable starting point for any community group doing some background research. The website also provides details of CE organisations working throughout the country. The business models for CE projects can be difficult to unpick so looking at what has worked for others is a really valuable way of developing deliverable ideas.
Community Energy South features a wide range of successful CE groups, many of whom have completed multiple projects.
Energy 4 All work with a range of CE groups and their website is a valuable source of ideas.
There is a great deal of focus at the moment within CE on heat networks. Two of the most advanced and highest profile projects are at Firle (in partnership with Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op) and Swaffham Prior (in partnership with Cambridge County Council).
The Rural Community Energy Fund does not provide funding towards capital costs. It supports feasibility work in looking at what CE projects might be possible. Finding a funding model that can work is a crucial element of any project. Projects can be income generating or be focused on generating savings through reducing energy bills. Either way, the income or cost saving can be used to secure funding to cover capital costs. Raising funds through a Community Share issue is a common way of funding Community Energy Projects. These shares can be marketed on websites like Ethex or Sharenergy.
The Distribution Network Operator (DNO) in the North East and Yorkshire is Northern Powergrid. DNOs are companies that own and operate the system of cables and towers that bring electricity from the national transmission network to our homes and businesses. Most CE projects involve engaging with the DNO, as projects generally interact with the DNO’s assets. Grid capacity and costs of connections are often two of the most crucial factors in determining whether a project is viable or not, so early engagement with Northern Powergrid is important. Anda Baumerte is their CE lead and is always happy to engage with community groups investigating potential projects.