The Big Society and Renewables  

A strong community sector would allow the decarbonisation of Britain’s building stock to be accelerated.

 It will further encourage the democratisation of power whereby consumers also become producers – with locally based energy service companies becoming a real possibility.

In these and many other respects, community renewables press the “Big Society” button, shifting responsibility for provision away from Government and the larger utilities, towards local solutions meeting local needs.

 It is an approach much more likely to free up the planning log jam and allow the U.K. to achieve the degree of local community and small business led ownership more commonly found in Germany, Denmark and elsewhere.   Report extract


 A revolution in the way we power our lives

Five measures to enable a revolution in how we power our lives have been set out in a new report, written by Climatechangematters Limited  for renewable energy NGO Regen. The report shows how government could enable communities to  generate their own energy rather than being reliant on centralised utilities alone. 

Merlin Hyman, Regen chief executive, said: 

“We are seeing huge interest in communities generating their own energy – and retaining the income locally. This movement has the potential to revolutionise the way we generate and use energy - but it needs government backing..”

Jonathan Johns , Director Climatechangematters said

 “community energy schemes have important potential benefits …..government has put in place some helpful support, now it needs to build on this. These measures don’t need huge taxpayer support, but could generate 4,000 jobs and £1 billion of investment .  Its not unrealistic given the size of the market for that to rise to £10 billion and 40,000 jobs in 10 years. . These are sustainable measures for leaner times.”

The report’s five proposed measures are:

1.     Exemption from the 20 per cent deduction in Feed-in Tariff for community multiple site energy schemes.

2.     Creation of a small FIT tariff for community schemes between 5 and 10 MW.

3.     Allocation of 10 per cent of Green Investment Bank support for community renewables and energy efficiency schemes.

4.     Simplification of private wires regulations and facilitation of remote net metering to join projects with  communities so that  the retail cost of own generated power is saved (less transmission costs) thus retaining a greater proportion of the financial benefit of own generation.

5.     Creation of a new instrument, the community issued tax-exempt mutual bond, to facilitate flow of £1 billion capital to the sector at minimal cost , and no recourse to the state, taking advantage of latent investor demand. At a 5 per cent coupon the cost would be £20m per annum for 4,000 jobs or £50,000 per job  assuming a 10 year loan life

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Report contents

Foreword by Merlin Hyman, CEO Regen SW                                                  

Executive summary                                                                                                  

The role of community energy schemes in the Big Society                            

Steps needed to ensure success of the community sector                                                      

Five measures to benefit qualifying community renewables                           

Jobs created and costs to the taxpayer                                                             

Protections to prevent abuse and control expenditure                                         


Climatechangematters welcomes comments on this report .

Please email or contact the author Jonathan Johns on 07831 486987.

Comments received are considered for future editions of the report.