Survey warns of low public awareness of community energy

The survey for Bristol Energy Co-op found that only 26% of respondents were aware of the model

Only 1% of British adults feel they know a great deal about the concept of community energy, says a poll commissioned by Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC).

Asked by the Ipsos poll “how much, if anything, do you personally know about the concept of ‘community energy’?” only 1% of respondents know a great deal.

Meanwhile, 13% said they know something about the concept; 1% (now a great deal; 2% a fair amount and 10% just a little. Overall, just 26% said they have heard of it. 

Once informed about community energy, almost half of those surveyed (47%) agreed that community energy is a more sustainable way of generating electricity than electricity produced by large suppliers. Around half of respondents (49%) agreed that community energy can be a source of income for local communities who use it.

BEC is calling on the government to invest significantly more money in community-owned renewable energy and improve public awareness of the model as “a democratic and fair way of developing energy that benefits everyone”.

It added: “In 2023, the government has committed a mere £10m towards community energy, a drop in the ocean compared to initiatives such as £20bn for carbon capture, usage and storage, a technology with significant scientific doubts.

“In a year that has seen the climate crisis accelerate worldwide, BEC is urging the government to invest significantly more in community energy and promote it to the public as a trusted way to provide cheaper, reliable renewable energy to local people.”

Andy O’Brien, co-founder and director of BEC, added: Our poll is a wake-up call for the government. People are being kept in the dark about the best energy solution to the climate emergency, one that empowers communities and greatly helps people struggling during a cost of living crisis. As we enter another difficult winter, it’s time for everyone to have the chance to join the community energy movement with its huge untapped potential.”

Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England, said: “Community energy is the big green elephant in the corner of the energy room. From villages to cities, community organisations are helping homes become cosier, greener, and cheaper to run. But this is done on a shoe-string. Government really needs to step up its support for this vital community resource.”