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New Platform Launches In Bid To Boost Community Energy In UK

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PowerPaired will ‘matchmake’ UK community energy groups and owners of land or property with renewable energy and energy saving potential to deliver significant social and environmental impact

A new online ‘matchmaking platform' for community energy called PowerPaired launches today with over 100 assets on offer to community energy groups. In the context of a growing focus on climate change solutions and the UK's net zero emissions targets, PowerPaired aims to increase the number of community-owned renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the UK - helping to put more energy into community ownership, potentially generating funds for great local causes and tackling the climate crisis.

PowerPaired is led by international sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future and supported by the players of People's Postcode Lottery and Friends Provident Foundation. The initiative aims to boost the sector at a time of changes in policy support and following feedback from community energy groups that finding a suitable site with a willing owner is one of the most frequent stumbling blocks to getting a project started.

The National Grid is just one of the asset owners already on board, with substations listed as potentially viable sites for hosting community-owned renewables projects. Other registered asset owners include Oldham Council, Suffolk County Council, Aster Homes and St Mungo's Charity.

The online platform is urging the owners of assets such as land and buildings and community energy groups to register on the site so that more community-owned energy projects can get off the ground. Community energy offers asset owners the chance to host renewable energy and energy saving projects at no upfront cost - whilst bringing down their carbon emissions, potentially saving them money and improving their relationships with local communities.

Alongside matchmaking, the PowerPaired website will signpost users to a range of support tools to assist them, including legal template documents provided by partner Pure Leapfrog and support from agencies such as Community Energy England and regional BEIS funded Energy Hubs. Pure Leapfrog is also providing information for asset owners about potential structures and models and assisting groups where there is potential for a new business model or specific advice is needed.

Rebecca Lawson, PowerPaired Project Lead at Forum for the Future, said: “We're delighted that such an amazing array of organisations are already on board for the launch of PowerPaired.

There are currently over 100 assets from across the country on the platform - from offices and industrial estates to schools, churches, libraries and homeless shelters. Successful projects will help communities take control of their energy, save money and tackle the climate crisis - all at the same time.”

National Grid's recently-launched Future Energy Scenarios report depicts four potential pathways for the UK's energy system over the next 30 years, with one - entitled Community Renewables - set to achieve 80% of the UK's decarbonisation target. According to the findings, 58% of the UK's energy could be generated by local communities, if a number of conditions are met.

The utility company's support for PowerPaired is part of a wider set of activities to support communities. National Grid also provides funding for energy efficiency, enabling consumers to understand their energy usage and regenerating local environments.

Nicky Conway, Sustainability Manager at National Grid said: “National Grid believes that community-owned renewable energy is a key part of the puzzle when it comes to empowering consumers to take more control over how their energy is generated and used and reducing carbon emissions.

We encourage local community groups to sign up to the PowerPaired platform so we can start to explore new projects together, and asset owners to register their own sites so we can really start seeing more movement in this space.”

PowerPaired aims to provide a boost to the number of community energy projects being developed. Community Energy England's recent report highlighted the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) coming to an end - with details of new export tariffs still being finalised - as one of the reasons why new projects were very thin on the ground in 2018 - the sector's toughest year yet.

Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England, said: “We're seeing a lot of resilience and determination in the community energy sector, which is made up of passionate people who are focused on making fairer, greener energy a reality for their local communities. New business models are being developed and there is a need for innovation, as well as new partner organisations such as local authorities, businesses and schools.

This tool developed by Forum for the Future efficiently facilitates these vital new partnerships. National Grid's addition of assets to the platform demonstrates their willingness to innovate and work with communities. We applaud these innovations from both organisations and we're thrilled to see such widespread support for PowerPaired. We look forward to seeing the initiative develop and new partnership flourish over the coming months and years.”

Will Humpington, Climate Change and Environmental Programmes Advisor at People's Postcode Lottery, said: “I'm delighted that funding raised by players is helping to support PowerPaired. This is a hugely innovative and exciting project which is set to make a big difference to communities who would like to generate their own energy.”


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