Co-operative and community energy is a growing sector in the UK, delivering renewable energy and energy efficiency projects owned by the local community. They have the potential to strengthen the UK economy, cost-effectively meeting climate and energy goals whilst respecting communities, and generating tangible local economic and social benefits.
Co-operatives are democratic structures with the legal ability to raise money for community benefit directly from members of the public. With a one member one vote system and a board elected from the membership, they offer a fair and transparent way to operate a community owned renewable energy business. They also have the power to prioritise investment in the local area, ensuring that financial benefits from renewable energy are felt by people in the locality. They are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Government’s Community Energy Strategy published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in January 2014 set out a vision of the significant potential for community energy in the UK. This established that the way energy is generated and used in Britain is gradually being transformed: increasing the proportion of home-grown low-carbon generation and that individuals and local communities can make an important contribution to maintaining energy security, tackling climate change and reducing costs. Community energy can unlock opportunities for carbon emissions saving that would otherwise be missed building stronger communities, creating local jobs, improving health and supporting local economic growth.