Supporting community energy groups

Building a local low-carbon future

Our communities team supports local groups who want a more sustainable energy future for their area. They range from large to small, and new to well-established, and cover renewable energy, energy efficiency and neighbourhood planning.

We produce a monthly newsletter. You can read our latest one here.

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To find out more or request support, please email We're also on Twitter at @cse_communities

Navigate this page by using the links below.
What we offer
Our current community energy projects
Our work in Bristol & Somerset
Resources for community groups
The Source |
PlanLoCaL |
Supporting community action on energy
Newsletter | Community Energy Update

What we offer

  • loan of event materials and resources
  • training webinars
  • training for volunteers to be community energy advisers
  • advice to community groups on how to develop and secure funding for their own projects
  • support and advice on energy saving and small-scale renewable energy projects (including detailed feasibility studies)
  • presentations to local groups

Our community energy projects

Check out our current or recent work:

  • PlanLoCaL. Our giant toolkit for community energy contains a wealth of resources on community renewables, energy efficiency and neighbourhood planning.
  • Low Carbon Localism. The Localism Act granted more powers to communities to decide what development in their area will look like.
  • Green Open Homes. The national network for communities who want to run low carbon open homes events.
  • The Community Energy Strategy. Read our take on the government's framework for community energy.
  • Urban Community Energy Fund. This was a £10m government-fund designed to support the development of community energy projects.
  • The Community Energy Challenge. We supported and mentored a number of community groups who won funding to develop community-scale renewable energy projects, including biomass, hydro, wind and solar power.
  • Rural Community Energy Fund. We offered support to groups who wanted to apply to the Rural Community Energy Fund. RCEF is a £15m funding initiative to help community groups develop low-carbon energy projects in rural areas.
  • Supporting bids to the Local Energy Assessment Fund. We supported 20 community groups who were awarded grants from the Government's £10m LEAF fund.

Our work in Bristol & Somerset

We work with community energy groups across the UK, but there's a lot going on in our local patch of Bristol, Bath and Somerset. Click on the links below to read about specific projects we have undertaken with local community groups:

Warm Streets Communities
Renewable Energy in the Levels and Moors
Warming Bristol Communities
Western Power Distribution community chest
Bristol Volunteers Get Energy
Bristol Community Energy

We also run regular forums on community energy, and put groups in touch with one another so that they can share their expertise and learn from one another's experiences.

Here is a list of just some of the community groups we have worked with:
Axevale Consortium for Energy | Forum 21 | Mendip Energy Volunteers | Pill and Community Warm Streets | Transition Town Langport | Easton Energy Group | Quantock Eco | Sustainable Backwell | Transition Portishead | Transition Wellington | Deane Energy Savers | Taunton Transition Town | Bedminster Energy Group | Sustainable Thornbury | Energy Efficient Widcombe | Sustainable Somerton | Re:work Knowle West | Wedmore Green | Bristol Energy Co-op | Cheddar Action Network for a Greener Environment | Bristol Energy Network | Low Carbon Gordano

In July 2011 we produced this overview of the community energy sector in Bristol, commissioned by Bristol City Council and funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Resources for community groups

Our extensive range of resources and eye-catching models are available for you to hire for your own community events. We’ve produced a guide showing what’s available and how to book.

One of our most popular resources is our set of insulation models (below) showing interior solid wall insulation (left), cavity wall insulation (centre), and exterior wall insulation (right). Scale: 2:1

We have lots of materials for community groups available online (see below). Here are a few of our favourites, which are free to download, distribute, copy and adapt.

Energy survey: how to do an energy audit of a community building
Common concerns about wind power
Approaches to community consultation and engagement

It's also worth checking out our series of advice leaflets covering many different aspects of domestic energy.

The Source |

The Source is an online collection of all our favourite downloadable guides and tools for community energy. It contains material produced by us, by our friends, and even by our competitors. We reckon The Source is the best place to find the most useful stuff for community energy projects.

PlanLoCaL |

PlanLoCaL provides communities with the tools to embark on their own low-carbon projects, whether insulating the village hall or developing a £1m wind farm – or anything in between.

The website contains reams of guidance on setting up a community renewable energy project, a local energy efficiency scheme (including making use of the Green Deal), or engaging with the local planning system. And there are dozens of guidance videos to watch.

Supporting community action on energy

We have extensive experience in training community groups on energy projects and low carbon planning, including community led renewable energy schemes, energy efficiency projects, fuel poverty and behaviour change initiatives.

Our training covers both the practicalities of setting up and managing community energy initiatives, as well as ‘how to’ sessions on the delivery of short and long term projects in your community. The list below gives a flavour of our courses:

Introduction to community energy projects  |  Setting up and managing a renewable energy project  |  Options and opportunities for low carbon retrofit  |  Funding for community energy projects  |  Contracts, agreements and tendering  |  Community share offers  |  Choosing a governance structure

Sustainable energy options in the landscape  |  Supporting low carbon planning and policy  | Low carbon behaviour change in theory and in practice  |  Consulting with your community  | Recruiting and working with volunteers  |  Understanding and addressing fuel poverty

Energy audits for community buildings  |  Home energy audits  |  Basic energy assessment of a community building  |  Community energy champions  |  Understanding switching energy tariffs |  Draught-proofing workshop  |  Setting up a bulk buy scheme  |  Understanding grants and subsidies for low carbon improvements

We have a huge bank of resources, including activities for community groups who want to run their own training or use our tried and tested materials to develop projects in their area. We are able to run bespoke training courses as well as ‘off the shelf’ training.

Costs vary but we make every effort to keep costs to a minimum for members of community energy groups and we are sometimes able to offer free training under one of our funded programmes.

Newsletter | Community Energy Update

Our monthly newsletter includes a round-up of funding opportunities for community groups, case studies, new initiatives and other useful stories. Here's our latest issue: October 2018. Click here to jump down the page to back issues of our newsletter. 

To sign up, just fill in the fields below and hit 'subscribe'. You'll receive a validation email shortly afterwards, just click on the link there to confirm your subscription. There's information about how we'll use your data below the form.

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By confirming your subscription you agree to receive the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) community energy update and occaisional extra communications containing news and information about community energy projects, activities and events, as well as information about relevant CSE projects. We’d like it to be relevant to where you live and what’s going on near you, so that’s why we ask for your location.

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Here are a year or so of back-issues: July 2018 | June 2018May 2018April 2018March 2018 |  February 2018 | December 2017 | November 2017 October 2017September 2017July 2017 | June 2017 | May 2017 | April 2017 | March 2017 | February 2017January 2017 | December 16 | November 16 | October 2016 | August 2016July 2016 | June 2016

For further information contact:

Rachel Coxcoon | 0117 934 1426

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