UK to See a Rise in Community-Generated Green Energy

The face of energy in the UK is changing. With the institution of a new tariff, the UK is making a push towards community-generated green energy. This shift comes as part of a larger initiative to improve the state of sustainable power in light of the growing threat of climate change.

The UK has made major strides in its attempts to go green. In 2019, the amount of electricity from zero-emission sources surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time on record. But to achieve the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it may require even more effort.

The move towards community energy is one such further effort. 

Community Power Tariff

In January of this year, Co-Op Energy announced the Community Power Tariff, the UK’s first tariff powered completely by community energy projects. On average, it will cost £5 more monthly than their standard tariff. In return, customers will receive power from community-generates sources and contribute to carbon offsets.

The price tag of another £5 doesn’t seem like much, but it does add up to an extra £60 a year. The cost may be well worth it to citizens with stronger convictions about community energy or sustainability but may turn some away. People who don’t want to pay for the tariff can still use one of Octopus Energy’s other options.

What Is Community-Generated Green Energy?

Community-generated green energy, as the name implies, is renewable power generated by local projects. Like other green initiatives, it sources energy from things like solar panels or wind farms, but it only uses local instances of these projects. Many communities across the UK already generate clean energy, and this tariff supports those practices.

The UK government already provides support for community energy projects. Their encouragement of small communities to pursue reduced emissions is likely a driving factor behind Co-Op’s new push in that direction. 

Motivations for Community Energy

All of these community energy projects and initiatives are part of the UK’s zero emissions goal. By encouraging rural areas to take sustainability into their own hands, the government and other groups hope to spur a unified environmental movement. But there are more benefits of green energy than just reduced emissions.

Renewable energy offers several tangible advantages for smaller communities. Clean air isn’t just better for plants and animals, but it’s better for people. Going green can significantly improve a community’s health, prolonging life and reducing medical bills.

Locally-generated energy also creates jobs. Plants like solar and wind farms need people to operate them, so building or expanding these can increase jobs within the area.

What to Expect

The first thing residents might notice when switching to community energy is a bigger energy bill. If you get your green energy through a program like Co-Op’s Community Power tariff, your monthly bill will go up. But if your community energy comes from a local push towards sustainability instead of through a power company, it may have the opposite effect.

The specific effects and their extent will vary depending on the community, but there are a few consistent consequences. Some of these might be noticeable immediately, like the monetary changes, but some might take a longer time to take effect. 

Short-Term Effects

The most evident immediate effect of community energy is the change in monthly charges. Whether your tariffs increase or decrease, it will only change by an incremental amount, but this will build up over time.

Another thing that might start changing soon after the shift to community energy is an increase in local project maintenance. With the Community Power tariff, Co-Op will start funding this upkeep. With truly local community energy, area leaders or residents will pay more attention to these projects. 

In either case, communities might see new job openings or an increase in the efficiency of local green power sources.

Long-Term Effects

Some of the most substantial effects of community energy will take place over a longer period. As more money goes into local renewable power projects, more green energy sources will start popping up. Feeding existing sustainability initiatives will lead to the development of new ones.

Perhaps the most significant impact of moving towards community energy is a decreased reliance on fossil fuels. Over time, if people maintain and expand these projects, more and more operations will run on green energy. In turn, this shift will lead to a cleaner, safer environment.

It’s critical to note that these predictions rely on the assumption that these community power projects are effective. Some people have called green energy tariffs into question, suggesting some companies may not be as eco-friendly as they proclaim. But a genuine push towards clean and local energy will ultimately be beneficial in the long run.

Written by

Jenna Tsui Technology Blogger, The Byte Beat