What is COP26?

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit will be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994. The UN has held these conferences for almost 30 years, but this one is different – it’s happening right here in the UK. Based in Glasgow, the UK is taking a presidential role on the event which will run from 1-12 November 2021.

Why does it matter?

Historically, these can be landmark events – the Paris Agreement was born at COP21, bringing for the first time a commitment to keep a global rise in temperature below 2 degrees with every effort to keep it to 1.5 degrees. Climate change has never been higher on the agenda, and COP26 can be a pivotal point for international cooperation and domestic policy. 

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward plans on how much they would reduce their emissions. These plans are known as Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs. These would be updated every 5 years – and COP26 is the first update of these. 

The UK government has a huge focus on delivering a successful COP26. It has sought to lead the way, committing to ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution of 78% carbon reductions over 1990 levels by 2035. However, its plan to deliver this is significantly behind. The Climate Change Committee has repeatedly warned, ”It will not be possible to get close to meeting a net-zero target without engaging with people or by pursuing an approach that focuses only on supply-side changes”.

Where does community energy fit into COP26?

Current climate and recovery policy mostly focuses on big-cheque, business-focused, supply-side investment with nothing to support or stimulate collective action at individual or community or social business level. This is a potentially fatal flaw in the UK’s ‘world-leading’ policies for COP26. We can and must exploit the focus on COP and climate action, to get government recognition and support for community energy as essential to achieving net zero

Our objectives

  1. To ensure the Scottish Government champion leadership from people and communities as critical to achieving net zero. 
  2. To ensure Scottish Government promotes involvement of community energy business models in their net zero policies and programmes. 
  3. To move community energy further into the mainstream with key stakeholders (e.g. DNOs, funders, LAs, businesses) and in wider climate, social enterprise and energy movements.
  4. To leverage COP to provide an enhanced role for community energy and a clear pathway towards the 2045 vision.

COP26 will drive climate change up the agenda – use this as an opportunity to get new people involved in your project and to reach out to other people in your community. Have a think about what you need – could you use this as a chance to get more residents signed up to your project, more volunteers, or to make vital links with other local groups? There are lots of great ways to do this – check out just some of them in the Get Involved section. 

How can I/we get involved?

Community energy’s power lies in its people – that’s you! We need our members (and their elected representatives) to join the campaign. There are 129 MSPs – we want them all as community energy champions. You have hard-learned knowledge of community energy, where the government is succeeding, and where they’re failing. Beyond political campaigning, COP is a great opportunity to enhance focus on climate action, spreading your message beyond your normal circles and getting supporters actively involved in your projects and in doing their bit from home. 

Make your MSP a community energy champion

Your local MSP is your link to the Scottish parliament – you may not agree with everything they do but working with them is a great way to influence policy and raise the profile of your project. The first thing to do is write to your MSP. Find our handy guide here and a letter template here. Ask for a meeting or better still invite them for a site visit. This will be a great opportunity to showcase your work, and speak to them about what support you need. 

Share your progress

As COP gets closer, we are expecting more and more focus on climate change and innovative solutions in the media. So there has never been a better time to get in touch with the local and national media to help your work reach a wider audience. We have a range of resources to help you engage successfully with the media here.

Just as important is social media. It’s arguably the most important campaigning tool – and it’s free! There are lots of different platforms you can use, and different ways to get people engaged. We’ve put together a quick how-to for social media with a basic run-through of the platforms and a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your social media presence.

Build relations with your local authority and in your area

Local governments may be able to enable projects, through funding, investment, opportunities, connections and contracts etc. Councillors also need connecting with to lead political change and keep energy and climate change high up the agenda.

Hold a climate event

Events can do so much for you – they can bring your volunteers and members together and help you make links within your community. They can also be a great hook for media exposure or getting stakeholders down to visit your site. Alongside arranging an MSP visit, a good time to do this could be during Climate Fringe Week. It’s organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and will consist of hundreds of events in Scotland. This will help promote your event and hopefully get people along who might otherwise not be aware of your work!

Introducing Community Energy Fortnight! 14-27 June 2021

Community Energy (CE) Fortnight is an awareness-raising programme that has been adopted by Community Energy England in recent years and this year Community Energy Scotland and Community Energy Wales are also embracing the initiative!  We hope to host the programme in Scotland every year to provide a beneficial collective platform for community groups and to raise awareness of Community Energy in the public and policy domains.

This year there is an additional aim to raise the profile of community energy in the wider public arena ahead of COP26.

CE Fortnight has traditionally been a rallying cry to the sector to make use of its platform in extolling the virtues of all aspects of community energy. This year is no different and we are inviting you to share the energy-related benefits and wins – big and small – that you have experienced in your community. It could be from any part of a project including scoping at the very start, the planning stage or any point throughout it. You may be working on something new, and if so, put it out there!

You might have virtual tours, videos, podcasts, blogs or images. The 2021 theme is #WeThePower and we hope you will use this hashtag to connect with other community energy enthusiasts via social media. Please add other CE-related hashtags if there’s space in your message.

Use #WeThePower and #CEF2021 to share stories on social media about why you are passionate about community energy, community energy’s role in rebuilding a better world and your ambitions for the future! This covid crisis has reinforced the importance of community strength and we should use this time to explore how to build back better and stronger!

Remember to tag our accounts on Twitter and Facebook and make sure you let us know about your material so we can promote it.

Some suggested posts are:

  • Across Scotland and the UK, communities are working together to combat fuel poverty #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • We’ve been working to alleviate the impact of COVID19, read our story here *insert link to your website, or send us your story so we can host it for you!* #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Community energy helps reduce energy bills, supports the local economy & cuts CO2 emissions #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • What lessons have Scotland’s community energy organisations learned from COVID19? Share your story with us! #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Why are you passionate about community energy and what are the positive impacts of it? #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • What are your organisation’s community energy ambitions for the next decade? #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Community energy in the UK could contribute 3000MW, power 1.3 million homes, create 5000 jobs, save 1 million tones of CO2 emissions and add over £1 billion to the economy according to WPI modelling #CEF2021 #WeThePower

Outer Hebrides to feature in international research into local energy innovation

We are delighted to announce that Community Energy Scotland are one of two Scottish partners supporting the Outer Hebrides in a multi-national research project putting local people at the heart of delivering a low carbon future for their communities.

The Responsible Research and Innovation Policy Experimentations for Energy Transition project, RIPEET, is looking at the impacts of bringing together communities, businesses, academia, government, and the environmental sector to deliver sustainable energy solutions.

The project is being funded from the EU’s largest ever Research and Innovation programme, the €80bn Horizon 2020. As well as the Highlands and Islands, RIPEET is working with communities in Extremadura in Spain, and Ostrobothnia in Finland. We will be working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the second Scottish partner in the project.

“The plan is to bring together a wide range of people in a ‘Transition Lab’. The participants will explore what ideal regional energy systems would look like locally in 15-20 years’ time. Then, what’s needed to achieve that energy vision: including energy needs; the barriers; and how to kickstart action to deliver the vision.”

Sarah Marshall, senior project manager at HIE

“The Outer Hebrides Lab will be able to actively shape and create change. RIPEET includes €50,000 funding for an ‘open call’ for solutions to meet an identified regional energy need. This might be a social or technological innovation, the establishment of an organisation, or a piece of research as selected by the stakeholders.”

Matthew Logan, CES Energy in Motion Development Officer, based in the Western Isles

Throughout the project, research will be carried out to understand what common policies, drivers and processes are needed to promote the regional transition to low carbon energy. The project is starting this year and will run until February 2024.

The international RIPEET project team comprises representatives from 11 experienced organisations from seven European countries, led by the Austrian Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI).

“Our aim is to provide responsible and place-based research on energy transition innovation and delivery models, learning from the experiences of the three Transition Labs as they explore options, barriers and solutions in their local regions.”

Wolfgang Haider, RIPEET Coordination Team at the Centre for Social Innovation in Vienna

Together with HIE, we are currently compiling a list of relevant stakeholders interested in taking part in the project.

New Build Heat Standard: Our consultation response

The New Build Heat Standard consultation requires new buildings consented from 2024 to use heating systems with zero direct emissions. CES put forward the view that action in this area is long overdue. The construction sector, and housing developers in particular, have been reluctant to take action in this area and the Scottish Government have been too too slow in enforcing higher standards. Low carbon heating systems are a proven technology but this must be accompanied by higher standards of energy efficiency if we are to reduce levels of fuel poverty and total energy costs for consumers.

Heat in Buildings strategy consultation: Our response

The Draft Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s proposed actions for transforming buildings and the systems that supply their heat, ensuring a transition to zero emissions by 2045. We welcome the long-term ambition and the comprehensive proposals, and recognise the intent to accelerate the timetable for action but questions remain about whether these go far enough.

The proposals highlight the considerable challenges ahead particularly around reconciling the cost of transitioning to low carbon heating systems and the financial burden this will place on many households already in fuel poverty, but it is difficult to see how the Scottish Government’s short-term targets will be met within the timescales proposed and with the level of financial support being offered.

Earth Day Carbon Calculator from ReFLEX Orkney

Today, we’re pleased to announce that the ReFLEX Orkney project has launched a new carbon calculator to help the Orkney community estimate its carbon footprint and monitor it over time.

The carbon calculator has been designed specifically for individuals and households in Orkney, using Orkney specific calculations where possible. It is available for anyone to use but note it may not be as reflective of carbon footprints for those that live elsewhere.

The calculator covers household energy, diet, consumables and travel and should take around 10 minutes to complete.

Once all questions have been answered, ReFLEX will calculate your personal or household carbon footprint, providing a breakdown of different sectors to indicate the biggest contributors, and a comparison to UK and global averages.

“Understanding our carbon footprint and the impact of our actions and consumption on climate change can help motivate people, business and governments to take action and reduce our carbon emissions.”

Gareth Davies, MD of Aquatera, ReFLEX partner responsible for developing the carbon calculator.

State of the Sector survey 2021

The State of the Sector is both an annual report and the most comprehensive dataset on community energy in the UK. We’re really excited because this is the first year that Community Energy Scotland have joined Community Energy England and Wales in conducting the survey. However, because this is the first time for us, the survey holds no backup data on previous projects in Scotland. This means that, to capture the full spectrum and impact of community energy groups across Scotland, it’s vital that as many Scottish community groups as possible respond to the survey – Please don’t let your group be missed out!
 
Responses are welcomed across all projects, from electricity generation to low carbon transport activities, and everything in between. The data will be used to assess the wide range of impacts that community energy organisations are having in the journey to net zero carbon. The results will be analysed and shared in a UK wide report, as well as a report on the state of the sector in Wales (thanks to funding by Welsh Government) to be launched later in the spring.

Previous reports have been used by local and national government, network operators, MPs, campaigning and environmental organisations, and many other organisations within the sector itself. The data underpins the work of Community Energy England, Scotland and Wales to support the sector and lobby for more supportive policies. We need your input to continue this impact. Responses you provide this year will be added to previous years’ data to form a comprehensive picture of the progress and impact of the incredible work happening across the community energy sector. This will allow the State of the Sector Report to once again educate and influence policy makers and sector stakeholders.

Who is this survey for?
We would like to hear from every community energy organisation involved in low carbon activities across the whole of the UK.  
 
What sort of projects are included?
We want to hear about all of the projects you have been working on; including for example, electricity and heat generation, energy storage, low carbon transport, energy efficiency, demand management, fuel poverty services and any other low carbon initiatives.
 
How long will it take, and can I save input to continue later?
As this is the first year the survey has been conducted in Scotland, you will be asked to give details of your organisation’s previous community energy projects and services as well as current projects and services, which means the survey will take somewhat longer than usual.
Please allow up to 90 minutes to complete the survey, and make sure you have as much information about your projects as possible. If you don’t have time to complete it all in one go, don’t worry, Typeform will hold your answers in the browser that you start it in for up to 15 days.
     
What is the deadline for submissions?
The survey will be open until 6pm on Wednesday 14 April.
 
Where can I get help?
Regen are assisting us in compiling the data for State of the Sector, so if you have any questions about this survey, please contact Prina

Join us to discuss community energy at COP26

As we move closer to COP26 in November we would like to invite you to discuss how CES and our members might engage with the event. We have been discussing a community energy presence at COP26 with a number of partners in the sector such as Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and REScoop and are keen to understand how we can support and represent our members through this partnership.

To do so we are hosting a Zoom call on Tuesday the 23rd of March at 4pm (details below). This will be a fairly informal and discursive call with the main points of discussion below. We hope to be joined at the meeting by representatives from Community Energy England and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland who will be able to share their plans and ideas for COP26.

Discussion points:

  • Current plans for engaging, participating or attending COP26 and associated events
  • Ideas, desires and areas of interest for COP26
  • Opportunities to engage, how CES can represent members and how members can get involved

23 March 2021 4pm: We hope to see you there and encourage you to come along if you are interested in taking part in, or learning more about, COP26.

To come along to the call, please click here to register your interest. If you’re not yet a CES member, it’s not too late to join!

ReFLEX Orkney – a new car club collection site at Kirkwall pier

Orkney’s northern outer isles communities now have access to a handy car club site near the ferry terminals at Kirkwall pier, so they no longer need to take their own vehicles on board when heading to Orkney Mainland.

This is the latest development by Community Energy Scotland as part of our role in the ReFLEX project that directly benefits more remote communities.

Co-wheels Orkney Car Club already manages three car hire sites around Orkney Mainland, and shortly, as well as the new site at the pier in Kirkwall, ReFLEX will shortly add another at Stromness, the West Mainland port town.

Leading on Orkney’s electric community transport

The outer isles communities of Hoy and Eday now have their own electric vehicles to provide low-carbon community transport services.

The vehicles replace those already being used by both communities in their on-demand transport services. Community Energy Scotland are proud to have been able to support the residents of Hoy and Eday in securing and delivering the new transport as part of the ReFLEX Orkney project. More information on the project is available on our website here and on the ReFLEX website.

Each community has received two Nissan eNV-200 electric vehicles: one seven seater capacity and the other is a five seater plus wheelchair access. The vehicles have been in use since last summer and been particularly valuable during the coronavirus outbreak.

The vehicles have been put to use alongside the existing community bus, which was running a scheduled service between Longhope and the ferry terminal at Lyness before the pandemic. Since the vehicles were delivered last March they have supported various community activities during lockdown. The vehicles have provided another transport option for those with particular health care needs or with limited mobility as part of the Development Trust’s dial-a-bus service. This has included the delivery of prescriptions and essential supplies to islanders including, but not limited to, those who have been shielding for the duration of the outbreak.

Deborah Jaques, Chair of The Island of Hoy Development Trust

A similar story exists in Eday, where the vehicles have been used by directors and volunteers from the Eday Partnership since June. Services have included food box deliveries, hot meals, parcels, shopping, prescriptions and even school work.

Eday Partnership reaches out to the whole of the island’s community, responding to the needs and interests of local residents. The vehicles allow us to continue playing an active role in supporting and strengthening the local community, while enabling improved mobility, responsiveness and flexibility in delivering these services. Since August, we have been using the vehicles to provide the school bus run, picking up the island’s children. More recently, as part of our wellbeing project, we have been using the vehicles for transporting our residents around the island and this is something that we are looking to make into a regular service.  Mobility is a big issue on Eday and now that we have a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible, this really has the potential to improve the lives of our residents.

Mellissa Thomson from The Eday Partnership

Mellisa also added: “At Eday Partnership, we are always looking to how we can best serve the community that we represent, and these vehicles go a great way to help us achieve the aims and objectives of our Development Trust.”

Community group collaboration with Community Energy Scotland as part the ReFLEX Orkney project demonstrates one of the ways that innovative, low-carbon technology can be made available to the public. Now that Hoy and Eday own their own electric vehicles, all local residents can now access low-carbon transport.

The communities were already taking initiative to improve transport and mobility in their communities by working with CES and being part of the ReFLEX project when the pandemic hit. It was really fortunate timing (and thanks to a lot of quick hard work!) to get the first vehicles in before the first lockdown and these last months have really shown what we can do for ourselves as communities with local action and ownership of solutions.

Mark Hull, CES Head of Innovation

Work is underway, led by CES via the ReFLEX project, on both islands to install electric vehicle charge points. Once these are up and running they will be managed by the Hoy Development Trust and the Eday Partnership.

Similar work is also taking place on Shapinsay, where CES is assisting the Shapinsay Development Trust to add to their existing community transport network with a 5 seater Nissan eNV-200 with wheelchair access and upgrade to a smart charger. The Trust operates an on-demand, donation based transport service for Shapinsay residents and community groups.

CES ReFLEX webpage

ReFLEX project website