A new study has concluded that community-owned energy schemes have significant environmental benefits and can save local communities money.

Benefits of Community Energy Report was commissioned by Devon County Council (DCC) and the South West Energy Partnership, part of the European Local Energy Assistance programme.

The report concluded that for a 30MWp solar farm the additional benefits would generate an additional £15.9m in economic value to the Devon economy. This added benefit comes from a range of areas. A critical part of community energy groups is their Community Benefit Fund with surpluses invested in social and community projects. The initial fund created by the group can leverage further funding to invest in such projects, generating additional value. Evidence shows investing in these community projects generates more in benefits than the cost of the investment. Lastly, the investment return to local shareholders means greater income will be retained in the local economy rather than leaking out to external investors. As this money is spent in the local economy it will generate further rounds of economic activity, supporting additional jobs.

From solar PV to hydro projects, Devon has approximately 25 community energy schemes, more than any other county in England – and the majority of these got off the ground following support from Devon County Council and the Community Energy Accelerator Scheme.

The evidence-based study concludes that investing in local, community-owned renewable energy generation projects can deliver better value for money for a local economy than purchasing similar energy from a traditional commercial provider.

The report was completed by CAG Consultants and is based on Treasury Green Book compliant methodology to determine the socio-economic benefits.

Watch the webinar of the Benefits of Community Energy Report launch event below:

  1. Welcome: Cherilyn Mackroy MP, representing the Environmental Audit Committee
  2. The Report Methodology & Findings: Bill Kirkup, Dave Lawrence & Mary Anderson, CAG Consultants
  3. Panel Review of the Report: Emma Bridge (CEO at Community Energy England), Jake Burnyeat (Managing Director at Communities for Renewables), Matthew Clayton (Managing Director at Thrive Renewables) and Patrick Allcorn (Head of Local Energy at BEIS)
  4. Q&A with delegates, speakers and panelists



Image credits: Image by Zsuzsa Bóka from Pixabay.