Learning for community energy groups in a post-subsidy world

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Five ‘practical learning guides’ have been developed to share learning emerging from community energy innovation projects. These should be useful to community energy groups considering new approaches and also to other community businesses considering action on energy and climate issues.
Power to Change’s Next Generation innovation programme is supporting the development of innovative business models for the community energy that are not dependent on Feed-in-Tariff subsidies.

The programme has supported eleven innovation projects over the past two years – further details of these projects are available here. Full reports on the learning about each business model will be published during 2022.

Five ‘practical learning guides’ have been developed to share learning on common themes emerging from the Next Generation innovation projects. These should be useful to community energy groups considering new approaches and also to other community businesses considering action on energy and climate issues.

The experience of the Next Generation innovation programme suggests that many emerging, innovative business models for community energy are significantly more complex, involve more partners and involve considerably more risk than earlier subsidy-supported business models.

The practical learning guides provide insights from the Next Generation programme and beyond on:

  1. Partnership working – and what partnership with different types of organisation may offer to community energy groups and partners.
  2. Partnership working with local authorities – including the role of community energy groups in supporting Climate Emergency plans.
  3. Partnership working with private firms – and the role of private firms as potential partners or customers for community energy groups.
  4. Risk management in innovative business models – including issues faced by the Next Generation innovation projects and how these have been tackled.
  5. Raising funds for community energy activities – including insights relating to community share raises, bond issues, social investment, grant funding and service models.

The Next Generation programme aims to raise the profile place-based community energy activity and facilitate a step change in the development of genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community energy businesses. The programme is funded by Power to Change, and has been supported by a consortium led by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and partners, with evaluation and learning support from CAG Consultants.