There's a lot to understand about community energy. Let's start with some of the basics.
What is Community Energy?
Community energy offers local ways for ensuring that everyday people can access the full benefits of the renewable energy revolution that is already underway in towns and regions across Australia.
While there is no universal definition of community energy, the Local Power Plan defines it as: 'where a community develops, owns or benefits from a renewable energy project.'
When communities are involved in renewable energy projects, they deliver economical, social and community benefits locally.
We’ve also borrowed this more detailed description of community energy from the Community Power Agency:
“community energy involves a community coming together to initiate, develop, operate, own and/or benefit from a renewable energy or energy efficiency project. Projects vary by technology, size, structure, governance and funding options. They grow from the diverse needs and available resources of a local community (or community of interest) and might be anything from solar panels on a school roof, to a small wind farm on the edge of town, to a micro-hydro system owned by two nearby townships.”
So, you can see that some important keys to community energy are:
- Participation of people in the local community or community of interest
- Ownership of the initiative by members of the community
- Distribution of the energy and/or financial benefits from the project to participating members
- Local governance structure.
Community energy aims to:
- Enable the local community to own their own renewable energy generation, storage and/or sharing technologies.
- Move communities towards 100% renewable energy sources
- Strengthen local economies by ensuring energy money stays circulating locally
- Empower people to invest in their own communities & projects
By generating, storing and sharing energy locally in innovative local community energy structures, communities can turn this around and strengthen their local economy, create local energy resilience and create local sustainable jobs.