All about shared community ownership under the Community Energy Strategy's voluntary protocol
While most of this website deals with joint community-commercial electricity genera-tion projects, we need to place this in the broader context of the sustainable energy sector.
It is important to remember too that there is a thriving sector of entirely community energy projects, covering, as shown on the left, a broader scope than is currently covered by the shared ownership agenda.
Energy efficiency is right at the top of the sustainable energy hierarchy. Your cheapest unit of energy is the negawatt - the one you don't use! There are many aspects to energy conservation, several of which lend themselves to community action.
Most of the production, and almost all of these supply, of energy in this country is in the hands of a small number of large multinational corporations. However, the sector is open to others, and there is a growing number of independent energy producers, mainly in the electricity sector. Almost all focus on sustainable energy sources, such as renewables.
The energy source best suited to this decentralised approach is electricity; and there is a growing number of independent power producers. Most of these IPP's are involved in renewable energy. A growing number are community owned schemes, mainly in solar, wind and hydro-power.
This is the sole energy sector currently covered in the shared ownership protocol.
Most heat in the UK is produced in individual buildings, so there is comparatively less scope for communal involvement. Many parts of Europe and the USA use district heating systems, and this could beneficially be more widely adopted, especially in new building developments.
Currently lend themselves less readily to community energy production, though biomethane production from anaerobic digestion, for example, could create an opening.
Another way in which communities can work together to improve their energy sustainability is to collaborate in sourcing green electricity and gas or sustainable energy equipment as further discussed here.