The term 'community energy' is used to describe any type of collective action by local people to reduce, purchase, manage or generate energy their energy on a local level; giving them more say in where their energy comes from and helping to ensure that the benefits are retained by the local community.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change recognises that "community-led action can often tackle challenging issues around energy, with community groups well placed to understand their local areas and to bring people together with common purpose."
Community energy is not a new idea. The Government estimates that over 5,000 community groups have developed their own community energy initiatives in the last five years.
Community energy projects come in all shapes and sizes and could include:
- Community-owned renewable energy installation
- A community group supporting energy saving measures across their local area
- Collective purchasing of heating oil for communities who are off the gas grid
- Collective switching of electricity or gas suppliers