2020 – what’s on the cards for community energy?

Community energy in Bristol is thriving, thanks to the dedicated hard work of individuals, communities and organisations, and the partnerships that allow us to be creative and innovate across the sector. At the start of a new decade – and with clock ticking down 10 years to reach net zero carbon – what’s on the cards for community energy  in 2020?

At a local level, BEN will continue to support the great partnership working that’s already happening, especially the exciting City Leap initiative. We’ll carry on supporting our members, developing new projects and advocating for community energy in our local, regional and national political arenas.

For us, this year is about helping individuals, organisations and communities move from activism into action. Our energy pledges are all about asking people to commit to a few actions that support community energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our aim is to help everyone who makes an energy pledge achieve their goal, by providing online advice or hooking people up with local support.

We asked Samantha Nicols from Bristol Energy what she thought 2020 would bring for community energy in Bristol. She said:

“A thriving community energy scene is going be critical for Bristol in 2020 as we continue to ramp up action of the climate emergency declarations and the ambitious City Leap Energy Partnership. Bristol Energy is excited to be developing energy efficiency offerings with Bristol Energy Network with community buildings and landmark attractions (stay tuned!) and engaging communities around the dual benefits of saving money and carbon. On a mission to help make Bristol a cleaner, greener and healthier place, 2020 will bring significant opportunity for change and action with collaboration with the community.”

2020 could well be the year that community energy in the UK is redefined. The Power to Change funded Next Generation project is supporting 10 community energy companies to develop new business models. They include sustainable transport powered by local energy and a school focused locally-owned energy service. Lockleaze Loves Solar’s distributed solar PV installations and local trading is one of the projects benefiting from the support. You can read about all 10 projects here.

This year puts our new government centre stage in global efforts to tackle climate change, when it hosts COP 26 in Glasgow in November. Duncan Law, policy and advocacy lead at Community Energy England says that in the run up to COP26 we all need to work together to get political support for community energy. That’s why Community Energy England has launched a new campaign to make community energy a government priority. You can find more information about the campaign and resources to get involved here.

He believes that:

“The main opportunity is getting the government to adopt world-leading policy and delivery so that it really has something to shout about in Glasgow. To do that we need to harness the sector to be more active with their MPs (see CE’s campaign page here) and to get more notice in the House and especially at No 10 and in the Cabinet Office and among BEIS ministers.”

He urges all community energy companies to get in touch with their local MPs – especially government ones – and get them photographed on community owned solar roofs, in community owned EV cars and any other photo op that will showcase community energy. He’ll also be getting in touch with Clare Perry who we know is very supportive of community energy and is chairing COP26.

From individual energy pledges to showcasing community energy on the world stage, there’s no lack of opportunity in 2020 for the sector. BEN is confident that Bristol will continue to be at the forefront of the energy revolution, and we’ll carry on supporting the network, nurturing partnerships and incubating innovative new projects to ensure that this decade sees a complete transformation of our energy systems.