Powering Up evaluation

15 December 2021

Powering Up evaluation

Key outcomes and learnings from the Powering Up project

Community-level action on energy is one of the key ways we can tackle the misery of cold homes and increase energy resilience, particularly in low-income communities.

Powering Up was a project run by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), funded by the Friends Provident Foundation, to support the development of community energy projects in low-income communities. The 3-year project focused on three places - Duffryn in Newport, Penhill in Swindon and Hamp in Bridgwater.

The main project activities were focused on engagement and awareness raising to start conversations about energy in these communities and demonstrate hands-on practical ways people can act on energy. This was followed by capacity building activities to upskill members of the communities to start and run their own energy-focused engagement and projects.

Some of the key outcomes resulting from these activities were:

  • Increased energy literacy: An estimated 600 people were engaged with through CSE’s engagement activities aimed at increasing energy literacy, and 19 people were given more in-depth advice support.  
  • Additional social outcomes: the capacity building activities gave engaged residents information, knowledge, and confidence to enable them to be more empowered with the energy system and to support others. This resulted in:
  • Resident-led activities: Community members were empowered to run their own engagement events and share information on energy with their friends, families, and neighbours. An estimated 140 residents were engaged and supported through resident-led engagement.

As the project was evaluated, we were able to draw out some key learnings that offer food for thought for anyone looking to run similar projects in the future, here are a few examples:

  • Building community level action on energy is hard if there is sporadic on-the ground presence. As an external organisation, the CSE team found it hard to maintain engagement in the communities throughout the project as they were not locally based. Co-designing and delivering projects like this with key anchor organisations  that are embedded in, and know their community well, is critical for project success.
  • The topic of energy can be hard to create engagement around. This could be because residents in these communities consider the energy system to be out of their control; or energy not being thought as something to act on collectively in a community. Running simple hand-on community workshops such as draughtproofing or slow cooker workshops provides an opportunity to reconnect residents to energy in a community sphere and demonstrates that it’s something they can act on together

More on the outcomes and learnings of this project can be found in our full report here. We created a shorter summary of the findings which can be read here.

We have developed resources and how-to guides to enable more communities to explore community-based approaches to acting on energy and tackling fuel poverty. We’re currently sharing these with community networks and umbrella organisations working with communities. If you’d like to find out more and get support for doing this kind of work, email us at communities@cse.org.uk.

Check out the blogs we’ve written following our journey on the Powering Up project:

November 2018: Powering up! How’s it going so far ...
May 2019: Start small to power up ... 
October 2019: Powering Up! Moving from delivery to co-creation and capacity building
February 2020: Barriers to engagement and the energy disconnect
October 2020: Powering up! The project goes into lockdown ...   
February 2021: Powering Up: reflections on partnership work in creating local energy action                                                                                                         


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