Volunteers seeking to advance citizen control of Britain’s burgeoning clean power sector have begun celebrating events this Community Energy Fortnight.

Tours of community-owned electricity generators – including a chance to inspect a 50kW Archimedes screw in the river Esk near Whitby – , workshops on fighting fuel poverty, on raising funds, and communicating changes needed from law-makers to advance democratically directed power, all feature in the fortnight ending 23 June.

Across England and northern Ireland alone, as many as 326 active generating projects now flourish, or so lobbying body Community Energy England counted last year in its ‘State of the Sector’ survey.

The wealth of events – calendar here – across four home nations highlights continuing achievements from over two decades of community-invested ventures. All have been funded by small private backers in whole or in part.

In London alone, around 30 neighbourhood-focused co-operatives work to – or already have – placed PV panels on tower-block roofs, on schools, community centres and public buildings.

Voting rights in most local co-operatives are based on “one person, one vote”, and not according to the wealth invested by any individual.

Sponsored by Thrive Renewables, a leading renewable energy investment company, this year’s fortnight of Community Energy events  is designed to empower communities to take charge of their energy future.

In tandem with making low carbon power for commercial sale, most of Britain’s citizen-directed co-operatives also combat fuel poverty now affecting over 10 million Britons.  Regular clinics run by co-ops advise hard-pressed bill payers on help available to insulate their homes, on finding cash and help from suppliers and grant givers.

Over lunch on Monday 19 June, Community Energy England hosts a funding workshop explaining how to secure success when co-operatives apply for capital grants offered by a plethora of sources.

Grants from philanthropic trusts, commercial energy suppliers and local authorities are essential to priming the pump of attracting thousands of small investors to front up for new community generating plant.

A spokesperson for Community Energy England commented:

“When people get together in their communities, they can decide for themselves what the best solutions are in their area and what their local needs are, while also creating jobs, supporting the most vulnerable, improving energy security, and responding to climate change at a grassroots level

At sponsors Thrive Renewables, managing director Matthew Clayton revealed the firm had built 24MW of clean energy projects for energy co-ops over the last 12 months

The Thrive boss added: “We’re delighted to be a sponsor of Community Energy Fortnight again this year and look forward to celebrating all that’s been achieved so far, with a hope that this inspires more groups across the UK to take part in a just transition.”

Over its first seven days, this year’s CE Fortnight dovetails with a complimentary Great Big Green Week, run by environmental charity the Climate Coalition.

Full schedule of Community Energy Fortnight’s events are here.

Interest declared: The current author invests in four local energy co-ops, and actively encourages others to do so.


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