Community energy benefits in deprived communities

How to kick start renewables projects in less affluent areas

Project duration: November 2016 ongoing

The economic, social and environmental benefits that a community renewable energy project can bring are clear. But the majority of locally-owned energy projects get going in more affluent areas, where there is the money, social capital and knowledge to make them happen. Understanding what conditions are needed for deprived communities to start such a project is therefore critical if we want the benefits of community renewables to be accessible to all.

This one-year project will research what these conditions are. They could be any number of things, a supportive local council, availability of funds, or an active community group for example. We have interviewed people from 12 community energy projects located in lower-income communities to understand:

  • how their projects got started
  • what factors helped the project along
  • what the barriers were to sustaining the project
  • the role that the local community has played
  • what organisations have helped the project
  • what the benefits are for the community

The findings from these interviews will be presented at a roundtable event attended by representatives from central government, the community energy sector and the community development sector. We'll incorporate the feedback from this event into our final report and will also create a short video to share with organisations with a stake in economic regeneration such as local councils and social housing providers.

"Community renewable energy projects tend to start up in affluent middle class areas," explained Harriet Sansom, CSE’s project lead. "Given the potential of these projects to improve local economic resilience, we think this is a missed opportunity for lower-income communities. These projects can create a local income, reduce people’s energy costs, generate employment and encourage people to take more control of their energy infrastructure.

"More bridges need to be built between the community energy and community development sectors so that the potential of community energy in building local resilience can be brought about. We hope this project will give organisations a clear understanding of what they can do to support projects in deprived areas."

The project will conclude in November 2017 and is being funded by the Barrow Cadbury Foundation.

If you're interested in this topic why not take a look at Powering Up!, a three year research project that aims to nurture local leadership on community energy. You might also like our CEO Simon Roberts' provacative post Time to reach beyond the elite.

For further information contact:

Harriet Sansom | 0117 934 1428

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