Environmental think tank, Green Alliance, has released a report calling for communities to receive the benefits from generating their own renewable energy.

The report calls for a shift in culture from centrally owned energy generators and ‘tenants’, to communities becoming energy owners instead. The report suggests communities should be able to receive financial rewards and other incentives for operating and maintaining their own renewable energy projects, with profits being recycled into other community initiatives.

The report, Constituency Voices: realising the potential of community energy  – by Hannah Kyrke-Smith with Paul Blomfield, Sheffield central MP, Mike Crockart, Edinburgh West MP, and Tessa Munt, Wells MP – looks at three diverse constituencies that underwent workshops for community energy projects.

The workshops, held in June and July aimed to identify barriers in UK government policy to achieving the 3.5GW potential capacity for community owned renewable projects.

Problems included a lack of community resources for skills and finance, uncertainty in energy policies and energy illiteracy. Also red tape on communities creating and managing their own renewable energy projects was identified as a major barrier from realizing community energy potential.

Also clearer paths on access to help, strategies and advice forums for communities, and for future policies to be designed for communities with priority access to the national grid, were raised as ways of developing the UK’s potential for community energy.  

The workshops concluded there is a need for community based policy and incentives, opposed to current models, such as FiTs and the Green Deal based on commercial installations, or targeting individuals rather than communities.

Overall the report calls for a standard model for community energy projects to be established, with a standard handbook for project process, detailing start up strategies with incentives for communities to own their own renewable energy projects.