Our communities are choosing renewables

Local communities are choosing renewables for themselves, their families and their local area. 

The UK continues to depend on fossil fuels and increase consumption of them. There is not enough investment in renewables. That’s why local communities are choosing to develop projects for themselves. Blue Patch supports these initiatives. 

Increase in fossil fuel energy

The news is full of the results from the most recent Statistical Review of World Energy report by the Energy Institute. It highlights the fact that in 2022 fossil fuel energy still accounts for 82% of our energy use globally. This is not in accordance with the Paris Agreement, under which we are supposed to halve our emissions by 2030 (The Guardian). 

Globally oil consumption continues to rise. Global gas declined by 3% but coal increased to the highest level of consumption since 2014. Renewables increased by 1%, but still make up only 7.5% of primary energy consumption (Energy Institute). 

What are the alternatives to fossil fuels?

Renewables like hydroelectricity, wind power, solar energy and nuclear energy are the alternatives to fossil fuels. Renewables rose 14% in 2022, less than in 2021 (16%). The UK’s investment in clean energy fell 10% in 2021/2022. This is contrary to the US and EU who increased their investment in renewables (The Guardian). 

As individuals, we can invest in renewable energy for our homes. The initial costs are high and not everyone is able to afford to install ground source heat pumps, solar panels or wind turbines for themselves. In addition, planning permission might be required.

How are community energy projects good for sustainability?

Community energy projects are small scale projects run by local communities. They group together to supply renewable energy into the community. Projects like the ‘fan club’ from Octopus Energy fund a wind turbine in a local area and the community benefit from reduced costs. 

Other community projects go even further and they fund the renewable energy source themselves. They install solar panels on community buildings or in community gardens. They collaborate to install wind turbines on local farms. The Energy Saving Trust has examples of community energy projects and details of resources if you are interested in running a scheme.

Blue Patch invests in community energy

Blue Patch invests 100% of the surplus revenue into community energy projects. We have supported a variety of projects over the last four years including:

  • Brighton Energy Coop (2019) raised money to install solar panels on local schools. The schools benefit from lower energy costs and will eventually own the solar equipment. 
  • Low Carbon Hub (2020) is all about localising renewable energy in Oxfordshire. Their project Ray Valley Solar is the largest community owned solar park in the UK. 

“If we want a renewable energy future in the UK – and specifically one that is developed for the benefit of local economies and communities – we will need to stand up for it, together.”

Low Carbon Hub
  • SE24 Sustainable Energy (2021) installed 300 solar panels and LED light fittings into schools in the area. They now have ten sites completed. Schools benefit from solar power,  but can still draw on the grid if required. Surplus funds support the local community to avoid fuel poverty. 
  • Egni Coop (2021) installed solar panels in 88 sites across Wales including schools, businesses and community centres. They are the same group that funded Awel Aman Tawe wind farm in 2017. 
  • Glasgow Community Energy (2021) installed solar panels on the roofs of two schools in Glasgow. They will save nearly 50 tonnes of Co2 every year. 
  • Energy Garden (2021/2022) is a project in London that has transformed thousands of metres of track side space along railway lines into gardens. They install solar panels in overground locations and educate young people in renewables and horticulture. 
  • Bristol Energy Coop (2022) has generated a third of Bristol’s solar energy. They have installed solar panels on community buildings and invested in battery storage systems. They use excess funds to help local community projects.
  • Solar for Schools (2022) helps schools to decarbonise with cost neutral solar panel systems. The schools benefit from lower energy bills and Solar for Schools provides educational training for students too. 
  • Gawcott Fields Solar (2023) is a solar farm in Buckinghamshire. They’ve been generating renewable energy since 2016. Excess funds support local community projects.  

Join Blue Patch today to help us support new community energy projects and get free training on how to take your business to net zero.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.