REA welcomes Government's Community Energy Strategy and launches new online resource to help foster partnerships with the renewables industry

REA to work with community groups to set ambition for expanding community ownership of renewable energy projects --- REA launches Renewables Marketplace: online platform for community, private & public sector groups to connect with the renewables industry

The Community Energy Strategy

The REA welcomes the Government's Community Energy Strategy, published today [1]. The Strategy considers several different aspects of community heat and electricity technologies, from collective purchase schemes to community benefit packages and from community enterprises to crowd-funding.

REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:

"We are delighted that the Government is really serious about helping ordinary people become active participants in the energy economy. People are beginning to rethink energy, seeing that it doesn't have to be expensive and polluting, and that they can even supply clean energy themselves. This is why we are seeing such excellent growth in the number of community energy companies."

The Secretary of State has asked the REA and other industry associations to work together with the community energy sector to facilitate community ownerships of renewable energy projects, and to set a level of ambition for electricity generation that is partly or wholly owned by communities. The Government's expectation is that by 2015 "it will be the norm for communities to be offered the opportunity of some level of ownership of new, commercially developed onshore renewables projects".

REA Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:

"We are looking forward to starting this dialogue with the community energy sector. We are confident that greater community engagement and investment in commercial project development will accelerate renewables deployment and the benefits that brings to society – mitigating climate risks, reducing dependence on energy imports and creating jobs in the green economy.

"Communities should benefit directly from renewables development as well. Local benefits can take many forms, from new jobs and exclusive investment opportunities to self-supply of renewable heat, electricity, transport fuels and fertilisers."

The Renewables Marketplace

The REA is launching today a new resource which we hope will be of use to community energy groups: the Renewables Marketplace [2]:

The Renewables Marketplace is an online platform which enables community groups, as well as private and public sector organisations, to make business connections with the renewables industry, free of charge. It is designed for groups looking to supply their own energy, save money, invest for the future, recycle their wastes, help address climate change or simply make new business partnerships. Our members, and other registered renewables companies, may be able to help by providing advice, finance, equipment, or renewable fuel or fertiliser.

It is free for users to post in the Renewables Marketplace. REA members and other registered companies can reply to the posts online. The poster can follow up on any offers they receive, if they so wish. Posters' contact details are not given away, enabling posters to remain in control of the process.

There are three live posts on the Marketplace today:

An abattoir seeking a biogas plant to take 10 tonnes a week of sheep paunch

A willow coppice looking to be harvested for biomass energy

An agent hoping to source waste heat to supply greenhouses

Former REA Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell, who is now the Association's Community Energy Adviser, said:

"The Marketplace is one concrete step which the REA is taking to help foster business partnerships between the renewables industry and the wider economy. It is well suited to community energy groups who need equipment, advice or a developer to partner with.

"The Marketplace is not just for community groups, though. Renewable energy presents opportunities for businesses and public sector organisations too. It can help reduce energy costs and carbon footprints, generate new revenue streams and turn wastes and residues into valuable resources. I hope the Marketplace will help bring forward new business partnerships between REA members and the wider economy."

Gaynor has also penned a new REA blog today [3], exploring academic perspectives on how commercial developers and community groups engage with each other. This is supported by six brief summaries of academic papers on community engagement.

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