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Community energy in 2018: mixed messages

Tom Andrews Senior Analyst

Community Energy England (CEE), a not-for-profit organisation which is the voice of the community energy sector, launched its State of the Sector 2019 report at an event on 22 June, coinciding with the start of community energy fortnight. The report covers the work done by community energy groups in 2018, looking both at projects delivered and ambitions of groups – 33 communities were involved in electricity storage, 29 in transport and 92 in energy efficiency. It portrays 2018 as the “toughest year yet for the sector”, with 69% of communities indicating pessimism for the future of the sector, very little new capacity deployed and only three new groups having been founded in 2018 from a total of 275. Our chart this week illustrates that communities raised £2.3mn in development funding and £40mn finance during the year, over half of which was loans. However, installed capacity was the lowest since CEE began records in 2016, with just 7.92MW installed. Furthermore, 42% of groups reported that at least one project had stalled or failed during the year. Although a number of small-scale solar and micro-hydro projects were deployed, there was no new wind capacity deployed. Aside from a purchase of an existing 5MW solar farm by Yealm Community Energy through the CORE scheme, the 2.2MW of new community solar was deployed on rooftops, indicating behind-the-meter revenue models. As well as electricity generation, 144kW of renewable heat production capacity was deployed, bringing the total to nearly 2MW. However, 38.9MW was reported to be at planning stages, with much having aimed to ...

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