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Using the new Ace community energy projects support tool

Posted by Alex Steeland on 16 March 2015 at 11:45 am

If you’re thinking of setting up a community energy project, the Ace for Communities online tool is designed to help. This new tool, developed by the National Energy Foundation, provides detailed ideas, tips and real life case study examples on a wide range of community engagement activities, from recruiting an initial group and holding the first event, to building community participation into decision-making and developing effective channels of communication.

The aim is to help community groups secure the local support and community buy-in which can be central to ensuring the success and longevity of a community energy project.

The website has been developed as part of the Academy of Champions for Energy (Ace), a sustainable energy initiative running in England, Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands funded by the INTERREG IVB NWE programme. It will feature case studies from across the different countries involved, offering a range of different perspectives on steps to take to promote community engagement.

Ideas for actions to take have been categorised by types of engagement, allowing suggestions which can be relevant at a wide range of different stages of a project to be explored by category from the homepage. Each idea has a list of corresponding case studies detailing how other real life community groups have carried out those actions themselves.

What makes the case studies featured in the tool different is that rather than being about what other community groups have done, the focus is on the detail of how they have done it. For communities looking for more in-depth guidance on particular types of projects, there is also a series of action packs on the website about setting up different community-led projects relating to the sustainable use or generation of energy. The packs cover wind, solar PV, hydro power, transport, local food initiatives and more.

Engaging members of the community, as volunteers, investors or through opportunities to input into decisions and to have a say in how things happen, helps to build a greater sense of community ownership and gives people a real stake in the outcome. In turn, this can increase support, awareness and participation in community energy projects, and allows any conflicts to be more readily resolved.

This all supports the mainstreaming and increased uptake required if the potential to increase community renewable energy installed capacity to 3GW by 2020, as indicated in DECC’s Community Energy Strategy, is to be reached. This tool aims to provide the practical suggestions and inspiration to help community groups who are ready to take action to do just that.

To find out more about Ace and to connect with sustainable energy communities across North West Europe, follow the project and join discussions via Twitter, LinkedIn or the quarterly Ace newsletter.

More information about Community Renewables on YouGen

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