This document, commissioned by Community Energy London, explores the unique challenges that community groups in London have faced. The study also examines the potential for a centrally-coordinated body which represents community energy groups, to work in partnership with the GLA to overcome these challenges.
- Community energy groups in London currently own and operate 748 kWp of solar PV situated on churches, social housing blocks and schools that have been financed through the purchase of shares by members of the community. Other technologies such as micro anaerobic digestion have been installed to a lesser extent.
- Some community energy groups focus on promotion of energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty by financing or facilitating retrofit or by delivering grant funded fuel poverty alleviation work.
- Community energy schemes have benefited London in several ways, including by reducing energy costs for community sites, increasing awareness of energy issues, investing in energy efficiency, providing advice to those in fuel poverty, and contributing to community benefit funds. Energy projects also stimulate local economic activity by channeling funds to local contractors, providing training opportunities and creating local volunteer activity.
- There is a strong alignment between community energy and the Mayor’s goals of creating a decentralised sustainable energy system able to meet the needs of Londoners and lift Londoners out of fuel poverty.
- London based groups often struggle to identify sites for energy installation in a volatile property market with complexity of tenure and uncertain lifespan of the commercial building stock. Reluctance or refusal of some local authorities to engage with community energy groups, low levels of social capital, and lack of funding and capacity building opportunities has compounded these challenges. These are challenges common to many other community energy groups across the UK but are particularly acute in London.
- A swathe of policy changes following the national election in 2015, including the 65% reduction in Feed in Tariff (FiT) rates, the removal of certain tax reliefs for investors along with the cessation of programmes such as the Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF) and the Green Deal, has made it difficult for existing groups to grow and for new groups to form.