Community energy projects in the UK are set to receive a boost following the launch of Co-op Community Energy (CCE) – a joint venture between the Midcounties Co-operative and Octopus Energy. CCE aims to provide vital support for community generation in the UK, a sector that currently receives no government subsidies.
Midcounties and Octopus Energy signed a strategic energy partnership in August, which saw Octopus take on ownership and responsibility for the management and supply of energy for 300,000 customers formerly supplied by Co-op Energy, Flow and GB Energy. Co-op Energy members remain members of Midcounties, and new Co-op Energy members are still being recruited.
As a stand-alone company, CCE aims to drive investments in local communities and pay generators a fair price for the power they produce. The organisation has recently secured five new Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with hydro-electric sites operated by the National Trust across Wales, taking the number of sites supplying renewable energy to Co-op Energy customers to 79.
CCE’s management team is led by managing director Tom Hoines, who joins the organisation from Noble Green Energy (developers of renewable energy projects in the UK), where he was general manager. He is also a non-executive director of the Low Carbon Hub, and played a major part in launching the first Community Energy Conference in 2013.
“The creation of Co-op Community Energy is a ground-breaking step in driving forward community generation in the UK,” he said.
“In a subsidy-free environment, it is crucial that community groups are given support in finding opportunities to develop and grow projects, and that they have confidence that energy suppliers will pay a fair price for the power they generate.
“Octopus Energy and Midcounties are showing real leadership in this area, and we have ambitions to increase our own portfolio of community energy partners.”
Phil Ponsonby, chief executive of the Midcounties Co-operative, added: “We’ve long been the leading supporter of community power in the UK, and with the launch of Co-op Community Energy we want to go even further.
“In bringing together the technological capability and agility that Octopus Energy provides with the co-operative values and community generation experience of the Midcounties Co-operative, Co-op Community Energy is perfectly placed to grow the sector.”
The joint venture is one part of an exciting change in UK energy infrastructure,” added Greg Jackson, CEO of Octopus Energy. “By funding and using local renewable power from the community, for the community, when the sun shines, the wind blows and rivers run, we can take the pressure off the national grid and save the world from even more fossil fuels.
“These brand new community energy projects we are working with across the UK are a small step to decarbonising our planet, decentralising our grid and sourcing power locally, and we can’t wait to get more signed up.”