Five community energy organisations have been accepted onto the Power to Change Next Generation programme, at the end of the first round of applications. Over the next three months, these groups will be supported to test and strengthen their post-subsidy community energy business models, and potentially access a £100,000 grant to develop them. They are:
Green Fox Community Co-operative, Leicester UK
Green Fox Community Co-operative wish to develop a model for a school focused locally-owned energy Service Company. Building on their experience of supplying heat and electricity to Hinckley Academy, the model aims to supply clean locally generated heat/electricity and energy services to schools (in particular multi academy trusts) through a range of low carbon technologies in a better integrated and more cost-effective way. Green Fox have partnered with the Attenborough Learning Trust (a multi academy trust of four primary/infant schools) to develop the model that they hope will eventually be scaled-out with across Leicestershire and beyond.
Low Carbon Gordano
Low Carbon Gordano propose to develop a model for distributed solar and local trading in an urban context. In partnership with Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, they are seeking to develop a model that enables the local community to own and operate a 1 Megawatt cluster of solar panels on 300 roofs in Bristol. The panels will be used to supply locally generated and affordable energy to 300 households. As well as brining immediate financial savings to those struggling with their energy builds, the highly replicable model will help to create community assets, raise aspirations and provide a platform for local resident to create climate resilience and develop local enterprise.
Nadder Community Energy Limited, Wiltshire UK
Nadder Community energy would like to develop an energy business model that will improve the lives of local residents facing isolation and create returns for investors, while pioneering an approach that will drive adoption of sustainable transport in rural areas. Working closely with ‘Tisbus’ (the local community transport organisation) and much relied on volunteer-driven community transport operation, the group are at an early stage of exploring possibilities for an Electric community transport business model based on a membership scheme and the use of locally generated solar for charging.
Brighton Energy Limited, Brighton UK
Brighton Energy also believe there is an opportunity for the 228 Community energy groups across the country to contribute to local transport electrification. The group have proposed to Brighton Council to install community owned PV at Withdean Leisure centre, linked to charge points, as there is already an informal ‘park and ride’ scheme there. They hope to use this site and collaboration with the Council and Southern Electricity to test the profitably of an integrated ‘package’ of solar PV, EV charging and battery technology for community energy groups. In a congested city they hope their model will realise environmental improvements from reduced CO2, NOx & noise; social benefits in bringing EV drivers to community centre chargers, providing free charging to disadvantaged citizens & creating a community fund for local residents; and commercial benefits from creating a viable PV+EV project and importantly proving the model
Chester Community Energy, Chester UK
Recognising that many small local organisations are not benefiting from reducing their energy consumption by changing to LED lighting, Chester Community Energy wishes to trial a business model that finances the upfront costs LED lighting installation and enables community groups to repay costs through their saving on their energy bills. Chester Community Energy believes that through their simple model energy saving in the order of 100MWh could be achieved in 2 to 3 years whilst simultaneously reducing the running costs and improving the quality of lighting. The users of the buildings, typically mother and baby, keep fit and wellbeing, hobby and recreation, self-help and support, the elderly, and a host of others users will benefit from a small but noticeable improvement in the environment of the community building.
"We were delighted to receive 31 expressions of interest for this round which shows there is a strong appetite amongst the sector to innovate with an array of different themes and business models being proposed.
About the Next Generation Fund
Next Generation is an initiative of and funded by the Power to Change charitable trust. Our aim is to develop and harness the potential of community energy businesses to build local economic resilience, reduce poverty and inequality, as well as to address wider social and environmental issues. We will do this by supporting innovative and replicable community energy business models, helping community energy businesses transition in a rapidly changing and post-subsidy energy market.
Next Generation is being delivered by a consortium of organisations, each of which has particular strengths and knowledge. The consortium is led by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, working in partnership with Low Carbon Hub, Everoze, Co-operative Futures, Co-ops UK (and its subsidiary, the Community Shares Unit), SfW Communications, and Social & Sustainable Capital.
Community energy projects are about generating renewable energy and improving the way we use energy by improving efficiency or reducing our consumption.
Community energy has faced many changes to policy, regulation and finance over the last couple of years, and the model that delivered an incredible amount of community energy projects has been question for some time.
Responding to these challenges, and with the broader goal of creating opportunities to influence how policymakers, industry and public sector stakeholders view community energy business, the Next Generation project has been specifically designed to help the community energy sector move beyond the existing models of subsidy-supported energy generation.
By supporting the community groups to support research, test and pilot new business models the Next Generation project aims to develop and prove a range of business models that could be replicated by community energy businesses across England providing environmental benefits and positive local impact.