about community energy
Across the world communities are coming together to respond to fundamental challenges such as climate change, regional economic development and energy access and affordability. They are doing this through creating community owned and community run renewable energy projects. From wind to solar, bioenergy to water power there are literally thousands of community renewables projects across the world that are providing income, employment and energy for their regions.
Community Renewable Energy (CORE for short) is an approach to renewable energy development that involves the community in initiating, developing, operating, owning and/or benefiting from the project. At the Community Power Agency we talk about the 4Ds of community energy, because they:
- Decarbonise our energy supply through using renewable energy or low carbon technologies;
- Decentralise and localize our energy supply; and
- Democratise our energy governance through community ownership and participation;
- Demonstrate that renewable energy works and brings lasting benefits.
Just as there is no one size fits all definition of ‘community’, there is no one definition of CORE. Indeed the sheer diversity of community renewable energy projects is what makes this sector so beneficial. These projects come in many shapes and sizes, growing from the diverse needs and available resources of the local community. It might be anything from PV on a school roof to a 4-turbine wind farm on the edge of town to a small hydro system owned by two nearby villages. Projects vary by technology, size, structure, governance and funding options. Even people’s motivations for setting such a project up vary. The diagram below, maps just some of the benefits and reasons why communities might develop CRE projects.
CORE presents a huge opportunity for communities across Australia, particularly in regional areas, to create a steady income stream to fund community development projects over the next 25+ years. Further, renewable energy projects that harness the power of the sun and wind do not threaten precious water supplies or compete with existing land practices. CORE is also a key way communities can cut their carbon footprint and become energy self-sufficient.
In urban areas, CORE allows renters and apartment owners to participate in the benefits of solar energy, even if they don’t own an appropriate roof space.
As part of our research into CORE the Community Power Agency has developed a wealth of knowledge about models of CRE, motivations, benefits and development processes. Some are obvious, many are innovative and all are exciting. CORE is about bringing people together, doing it ourselves and collectively creating benefits that go beyond the individual.