The UK national grid has backed the new PowerPaired community energy platform.
Forum for the future, a sustainability charity, has started up a new online matchmaking platform which plans to pair up community energy groups with public sector organisations or businesses that own sites or buildings which could be at the middle of a community owned scheme to provide renewable energy.
The website for the scheme, called PowerPaired, was launched earlier this week. The site has over 100 assets which are on offer to community energy groups and is backed by the national grid, housing associations, local authorities and charities.
The aim of the scheme is to increase the amount of community owned renewable energy projects across the United Kingdom, such as wind turbines, photovoltaic systems and battery storage sites.
Some of the sites on offer include libraries, schools, industrial estates, offices, churches and a homeless shelter in London which is exploring the opportunity of having rooftop solar power.
The charity hopes to see more energy assets come under community ownership and in turn this would generate funding for local causes and have a positive effect on climate change as it is promoting renewable energy and reducing the amount of fossil fuel used in generating electricity.
The project lead for PowerPaired, Rebecca Lawson, has recently explained that the charity was acting upon feedback it had received from community energy groups and that the main issue is trying to find a suitable site with an owner who is willing to take part.
Finding a site that is technically feasible with a willing owner who does not mind hosting an energy asset can be a struggle she said. This then can demotivate volunteers working for the charity as they feel like they are not getting anywhere with the project.
Forum for the future has a wide network of asset owners who are willing to engage with communities to help improve them and also cut down their own carbon footprint. Therefore bringing the two groups together has massive potential.
Rebecca Lawson also thinks that community energy along with community engagement is a step in the right direction for the UK to become net zero.
Increasing the amount of community owned energy assets ties in members of the general public to get behind the change.
PowerPaired has had support from the Friends Provident Foundation and the Peoples Postcode Lottery.
The project follows on from a change in policy from the government towards community energy projects, mainly the closure of the governments Feed In Tariff scheme.
However, community groups are now planning out business models which will be able to operate without the Feed in Tariff subsidies and hopefully project numbers should return to the numbers they were at in 2016 and 2017.
The National Grid have made a number of their substations listed for potential to be used to host a community owned renewable energy project. Other asset owners that have listed their buildings/sites up for availability include St Mungo’s Charity, Suffolk County Council, Oldham Council and Aster Homes.
Forum for the Future and PowerPaired encourage other owners of land or buildings that could be used for the project, along with the community energy groups themselves, to register as soon as possible.
Other than just matchmaking, PowerPaired will be used to show users a wide variety of support tools and agencies where they can go to receive any help.
Pure Leapfrog will be providing legal template documents which can be used if help is required. Pure Leapfrog are a charity that offer technical and practical support to community energy projects and they are a partner of PowerPaired.