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New inquiry: What role could ‘community energy’ play in decarbonising energy and heat?

18 February 2021

Community Energy is the latest topic the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) will investigate within the workstream considering technological innovation and climate change.

Community energy projects involve groups of people coming together to purchase, manage, generate or reduce consumption of energy. Since most community energy projects focus on renewable power and/or energy efficiency, they could play a vital role in the decarbonisation of energy and heat, which is vital as the UK edges closer to the 2050 target to be net-zero.

As of 2020, community energy contributed 278MW of renewable energy and heat to the energy system. It has been estimated that by 2030, the community energy sector could power 2.2 million homes, saving 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

For community energy schemes to be successful, projects will require appropriate funding and policy support. Until 2017, there was a steady growth of the UK’s community energy sector, largely driven by the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme that provided payment to individuals for their own energy generation. The scheme closed to new applications in 2019. In 2020, the Government introduced the Smart Export Guarantee as a new initiative. Unlike the FiT scheme, the Smart Export Guarantee pays for excess energy put into the grid rather than energy produced.

The EAC will be considering these issues in greater depth and will invite written submissions before holding a one-off evidence session. Following previous sessions in this series, the Committee has often written to Ministers to seek further information on the Government’s approach to such innovations.

Chair's Comments

“As part of our inquiry into Technological Innovation and Climate Change, we are considering a variety of innovations that could play a role in net zero Britain. As most community energy projects now focus on renewable power or energy efficiency, we will be looking at how the technology used in these projects can decarbonise heat and energy supply. I invite anyone with knowledge of community energy initiatives to share that knowledge with the Committee by making a written submission.”

Further information

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