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!

Community Energy: State of the Sector 2021 report available now

The report, produced by Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and Community Energy Scotland, and launched today, illustrates the progress of community energy in the UK in 2020. The ambitions and importance of community energy provide an additional important focus.

Written by our colleagues in Regen, from data contributed by a total of 424 community organisations, the report provides evidence-based recommendations to policy-makers and stakeholders on how the sector can meet its potential. It contains information aimed to help drive a committed and supportive wider environment in which community energy groups can thrive and further contribute to local economies and significant decarbonisation for the greater good.

This is the first year Scottish groups have taken part in the report and we are most grateful to the 72 Scottish community energy organisations that contributed their time and information to make this possible. We are delighted to confirm that Scotland demonstrates particularly strong power generation activity per capita, chiefly via wind and hydro power.

Located in the Outer Hebrides, Point and Sandwick’s community owned wind farm – the largest community owned windfarm in the UK and generating £900k a year for the local economy – features as a case-study in the report. The report also features an Orkney-based case study from the island of Eday.

In addition to providing information and inspiration for those who read it, this report will add to the collective voice of Scotland’s community energy groups in emphasising the undeniable evidence for greater national investment into the sector to build a more resilient nation as we head towards a net zero world.

The report is sponsored by Electricity Northwest, SP Energy Networks and Northern Powergrid.

Community wind power more rewarding than commercial wind

Community owned wind farms have paid their communities 34 times more than commercial counterparts according to a June report produced by Aquatera Ltd on behalf of Point and Sandwick Development Trust.

The report compared nine community owned and four private wind farms in Scotland and found that returns from the community owned wind farms average £170,000 per installed MW per annum, far exceeding the community benefit payment industry standard of £5,000 per installed MW per annum.

This valuable study confirms what our sector has long-known; that the benefits from community energy vastly exceed those from privately-owned generation. The report reaffirms the importance of communities retaining control and ownership of renewable energy, to maximise the benefits to local people. I believe the same principles will apply to other areas that community groups are now engaging in, such as energy storage, EV car clubs and flexibility provision. This report shows renewable community energy is a vital part of our journey to an equal and fair Net Zero.

Janet Foggie, CEO, Community Energy Scotland

Community benefit payments have become well established in the realms of commercial wind farm development in the UK and have progressed over the last 30 years to a rate of £5,000 per installed MW per annum (a rate which has been adopted by the Scottish Government in their guidance on community benefits within the onshore renewable energy sector).

Unlike private wind farms, community-owned wind farms’ monetary contributions are based on the turbine’s financial performance instead of a set yearly stipend. For the purposes of the report Aquatera analysed the figures to get a £ per MW per annum basis.

One case study within the report showed that the 0.9 MW community-owned turbine on the Orkney island of Westray has returned to the community approximately £299,057 per MW per annum and is expected to contribute £6.8 million to the community over its 25-year lifespan.

We are very please to have been able to contribute to this groundbreaking research into the tremendous economic impact of community energy. We are just one of a number of community wind farms in the Western Isles which together represent over £30 million of capital investment and which is returning a net income of £2 million a year into good causes in the local economy.

Community energy punches way above its weight in financial and economic terms and if governments really want to ‘level-up’ and to spread the benefits of the green economy to all parts of the country, then they need to make community energy a central pillar of their climate policy and not just a ‘nice-to-have’.

Norman Mackenzie, Chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, which owns the UK’s largest community wind farm

Private wind farm community benefit payments (separate from the normal operational benefits like the generation of local jobs) can be a valuable source of income for communities located near renewable developments. Some private developers also offer an opportunity for the local community to invest in the development and, in return, receive a share of the profits generated.

Results from this report, however, highlight the obvious increased long-term financial benefit that communities who own and operate their own wind farm have experienced.

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.

We the Power – a launchpad for Community Energy Fortnight 14-27 June

We the Power is a film (approx. 35 mins) about the citizen-led community-energy movement in Europe and the visionaries lighting the way. The film was created by the Patagonia company.

‘We the Power’ is also the theme for Community Energy Fortnight, a programme that will run 14 – 27 June – keep a look out on our social media platforms for more information over the coming weeks.

Whether your community has already experienced the benefits of generating/using its own energy, or whether it’s still a seed of an idea waiting to be planted, please sit back, enjoy the film and get in touch with us if you want to discuss renewable energy in your community. info@communityenergyscotland.org.uk 07920 182308

Scotland’s Climate Assembly: Interim Report now laid in Scottish Parliament

We, the members of Scotland’s Climate Assembly in our report to Parliament, present a call to action to Scotland for change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way.

If we fail to act now, we will fail our current and future generations, in Scotland and across the world.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly

The Assembly met for seven weekends from November 2020 – March 2021 and members have deliberated on evidence from over 100 expert speakers. The remit of the Assembly tasks members with responding to the question: ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’

This initial report sets out 16 goals agreed by an overwhelming majority of members for tackling the climate emergency in a fair and effective way. These goals cover a broad range of issues including domestic heating, emissions, land use, taxation and the economy.

You can also watch this video link about the 16 goals, introduced by the Assembly members.


A Statement of Ambition by all Assembly members was published in The Scotsman, addressed to the whole of Scottish society, including government, businesses, communities and individuals. It gives a detailed overview of the changes members say are now essential.

The Assembly’s full report, with detailed recommendations, will be published in May following the election of a new Scottish Parliament. Government Ministers must publish a statement outlining how they will respond within six months of the final report – just as momentum is building for COP26.

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!