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The Evolution of Community Energy in the UK

Braunholtz-Speight, Tim and Mander, Sarah and Hannon, Matthew and Hardy, Jeff and McLachlan, Carly and Manderson, Ed and Sharmina, Maria (2018) The Evolution of Community Energy in the UK. Working paper. UKERC, London.

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This UKERC Working Paper seeks to understand the factors contributing to the emergence, growth and nature of community energy in the UK. It is based on a review of existing data and literature, and focuses on investigating the role of financing mechanisms and business models in the evolution of the community energy sector. It argues that, since its emergence in the UK in the late 1990s, community energy has grown through finding opportunities for smaller scale, decentralised energy activities in the UK's highly centralised energy system. The combination of development of renewable energy technologies, and the launch of the government's Feed-In Tariff Scheme (FITS) in 2010, produced a boom in the sector, especially around solar electricity generation. Recent cuts to FITS rates and other policy changes place community energy at a crossroads. Some renewables activity will continue, but groups are exploring a wide range of activities, partnerships, and business models. We are engaging with the sector around outputs from our research, which include a survey and case studies, to co-develop recommendations and pathways for the future.