Stepping up the UK’s commitment to community-owned renewable energy, a partnership of civil society leaders will today meet with Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to instigate the ‘vision for community energy.'

Leading figures from The Co-operative; the National Trust; The National Federation of Women’s Institutes; the Church of England and Campaign to Protect Rural England will ask for Government’s assistance in the launch of a number of community-owned renewable energy projects across the UK.

Patrick Begg, Director of Rural Enterprise at The National Trust, said: “Many other European countries are way ahead of the UK, as we found out when visiting German communities last year. Germany produces over 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, with communities generating about a quarter of this. In the UK, less than 1 percent is generated by our communities, a figure this coalition wants to dramatically increase by 2020. Today we are asking the Government to support us in this.” 

The Co-operative is also setting aside £1 million in 2012 to support community energy through its Community Energy Challenge competition, which also opens today. This scheme, to be delivered by Bristol-based charity the Centre for Sustainable Energy2 (CSE) on behalf of The Co-operative, will result in six communities across the UK receiving support to set up their own energy projects.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative, explained: “We want nothing less than a clean energy revolution, with communities controlling and benefiting from their own renewable energy. Talk of a new dash for gas shales, which could see up to 3,000 wells installed across the UK, highlights the choices we face – more and dirtier sources of fossil fuels or clean energy owned and controlled by communities.”

The coalition was brought together by The Co-operative and its partners Forum for the Future and Carbon Leapfrog. The group plans to meet throughout the year in order to continually drive the shared vision for community renewable energy forwards.

The outline of the vision for community energy can be read here.