Community groups with bright ideas for energy innovation to benefit from new peer support

Community energy groups across England will benefit from a new peer support programme to help develop new innovative business models.

The Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme aims to harness the skills, enthusiasm and expertise of the community energy sector. Funded by the independent trust Power to Change, the programme will encourage shared learning in order to replicate business models and support genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community businesses focused on environmental innovation.

This new initiative builds on the Next Generation programme which is investing over £40 million to convert solar schemes into community ownership. The Next Generation programme is also  and supporting 11 new schemes, which include community smart lighting, harvesting solar power to charge electric vehicles, and a dedicated energy saving service for local schools.

Will Walker, Programme Manager in charge of energy at Power to Change said: “We believe more communities should be able to generate their own energy and reinvest the profits to benefit local people. Through the Next Generation programme we have been able to support new schemes and bold ideas. We are now excited to be able to share the learning and challenges through structured peer to peer support. This will allow us to develop new innovative community energy projects more quickly and avoid reinventing the wheel.”

Initially the programme is looking to recruit passionate and enthusiastic community energy mentors to share their knowledge and experience. Applications for mentoring organisations open on 20 January and close on 15 February 2021.

Community energy groups developing innovative projects will be able to apply to receive peer mentoring support in late February. Working in cohorts, they can share learning and experiences.

Keith Hempshall, Centre for Sustainable Energy, says: “We are excited by the opportunity that the Next Generation Community Energy Peer mentoring programme represents for communities across the UK to play a full role in delivering climate emergency objectives and creating a future energy system that is more democratic, decentralised and decarbonised.”

James de le Vingne, Head of Development Unit, Co‑operatives UK, says: “We are proud of the many democratically owned community energy organisations doing incredible work across the UK. Co‑operative values and principles create the ideal conditions to collaborate and share learning. This programme offers an exciting opportunity to develop even more inspiring and innovative community owned energy projects. They will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Green Fox Community Co‑operative, working to supply locally sourced, low-carbon, low-cost heat and electricity and energy services to schools in Leicestershire. These projects are making a huge difference to people and the planet.”

Application details for mentors to apply can be found here: www.next-generation.org.uk/peer-mentoring

 

Notes to Editor

Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme is managed by Co-operatives UK in partnership with Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Co-operatives UK. We are also delighted to be working with Community Energy England (CEE).

Next Generation is delivered by a multi-disciplinary consortium: the Centre for Sustainable Energy (lead partner), Everoze Partners, Low Carbon Hub, Co-operatives UK, Cooperative Futures, Social and Sustainable Capital, and SFW Communications.

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector owns assets worth £890m and comprises 9,000 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2019). From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.

Centre for Sustainable Energy is a Bristol-based independent national charity (298740) that seeks to change the way people think and act about energy. It does this by managing innovative energy projects, training and supporting others to act, undertaking research and policy analysis and giving energy advice. [cse.org.uk]

Co-operatives UK is the voice for the UK’s thousands of independent co-ops. They support co-ops to start up and thrive. www.uk.coop

Co-operatives UK’s funded programmes include: