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Shaping up the energy industry

Posted on 15 October 2015

The UK is still a long way behind the likes of Denmark and Germany when it comes to supporting community efforts to kick-start clean energy revolutions. As an ethical energy provider, we believe it’s our duty to ensure that national and local government see the exciting possibilities of community energy and renewable projects. That’s why, through our values and promises,  Co-operative Energy is looking to change to the face of energy industry. 

Currently, just 17 per cent of electricity produced in the UK comes from renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar. Meanwhile, households still face a very limited choice in the type of energy they can buy. 

“This is really disappointing,” says Ramsay Dunning, Managing Director at Co-operative Energy, and overseer of the company’s future strategic development opportunities. “The International Energy Agency now predicts that renewable energy is set to overtake coal and become the world’s number one electricity source by 2030, if countries keep their climate change pledges. The UK is clearly lagging behind. At Co-operative Energy, we want to do all we can to help rectify this position by encouraging community energy initiatives” 

Since launching in 2010, Co-operative Energy have supported smaller supplier and low carbon efforts by sourcing power from community generation initiatives, such as Great Dunkilns Farm Wind and Harlock Hill Wind Farm. We now have agreements in place with 30 renewable energy generators, 15 of which are owned by the community.

“Our aim is to encourage the exciting expansion of community energy across the UK,” says Dunning. “By purchasing much of the energy supplied to our customers from renewable sources owned by these community energy groups, we can help reduce carbon emissions and give customers better control of their energy. There have already been 5,000 community energy projects launched across the whole of the UK energy movement in the last five years! And we can’t wait to be at the forefront of launching even more.”

User Chooser

As well as supporting renewable and community projects, we’ve launched our innovative User Chooser service. Designed to promote the generation (and use) of clean energy, User Chooser bridges the gap between renewable generators and domestic energy customers. 

Put simply, the new online service gives customers more control over how their electricity is produced.  At no extra cost, customers can now choose for themselves how their energy provider sources the electricity they use.

Learn a little bit more about some of the green energy generation sites we partner with below.

Great Dunkilns Farm

The first crowdfunded renewable energy project in the UK, Great Dunkilns Farm is an award-winning community initiative launched by The Resilience Centre.

The Resilience Centre helps people, communities and businesses to increase their resilience to the effects of climate change and resource depletion. Its mission is to deliver practical, economic and sustainable solutions by developing fair and equitable relationships between landowners, developers, and local communities.

The project’s first wind turbine was installed near St Briavels in Gloucestershire in late 2012, and over 420 investors contributed to the development by purchasing debenture shares.

  • The UK’s first crowdfunded renewable energy project
  • Best Community Energy Initiative at the Regen SW Green Energy Awards
  • Donates £20,000 every year to local causes that further community resilience

Harlock Hill Wind Farm

Harlock Hill Wind Farm was born after the site’s landowner met the owner of a windfarm in Gotland, Sweden. The Swedish windfarm owner was a member of a co-operative of farmers in the Baltic, which inspired the British landowner to ask a Swedish company to develop the site at Harlock Hill.

Today, it is the first UK wind farm to be co-operatively owned by Baywind Energy Co-op. Baywind has approximately 1,200 members, and each of them receives annual share interest of between 6% and 8%.

Additionally, the site has been able to:

  • Power the equivalent of 1200 homes
  • Have a community fund offering grants to local good causes
  • Run school visits to educate local children about the benefits of renewable energy
  • Provide local jobs

With the hope of extending the co-operative ownership model to other areas of the UK, Baywind’s members have also established Energy4All, which now employs 8-10 people.

Their advice to anyone considering setting up a community energy station?

“Be patient and persistent. It is not simple, but this is a mutually beneficial partnership and one in the eye for the big supply companies.”

For more details about the User Chooser service and to have your say in how Co-operative Energy sources your electricity, visit: http://www.cooperativeenergyhub.co.uk/

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