VONNE, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Community Energy England (CEE) were recently appointed to research the resilience of the North East’s community energy sector and recommend what can be done to strengthen it.
This research informs the North East Community Energy Study, a report commissioned by the North East Local Energy Partnership (LEP) and North of Tyne Combined Authority. The North East’s community energy sector is small, but the study argues it has huge potential to grow and make a positive impact on the region and its environment. VONNE was involved in researching how this potential can be realised and harnessed going forward.
VONNE, the CSE and CEE found that community energy projects are associated with a wide range of benefits not limited to protecting the environment. For example, as well as reducing carbon emissions, projects such as community windfarms and car sharing schemes can raise awareness around energy use, improve local economic resilience, create community cohesion and tackle fuel poverty.
The rich economic, social and environmental value of community energy makes it a potentially promising area of collaboration between the VCSE sector, academic and research organisations, local authorities, combined authorities and the LEP.
Having identified the opportunities of community energy, VONNE and its research partners identified four goals for building and strengthening the sector in the North East. These are:
- Ensuring all regional leaders view community energy as integral to addressing the climate emergency by 2023.
- Aiming to engage 50-250 VCSE, academic and research organisations in the development and delivery of community energy initiatives by mid-2023.
- Supporting at least 50-100 communities to explore local needs and opportunities for community-based energy projects between 2022 and 2025.
- Setting up between 25 and 50 new community energy projects across the North East by 2023.
This research will now inform practical steps that can be taken by regional stakeholders to progress the community energy projects that will make a difference locally.
To find out more about this research and read the North East Community Energy Study in full, visit the CSE website.