About Next Generation
Next Generation aims to create a step change in the development of genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community businesses, helping to raise the profile of place-based community energy activity with policy-makers and industry.
The initiative is funded by Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.
Why this, and why now?
While traditional community energy models, such as owning renewable energy assets, have become less viable because of policy change, the community energy sector is uniquely placed to take advantage of the move to a smarter and more decentralised energy system. The Next Generation programme will help the sector innovate, test and develop new business models to deliver more holistic and integrated local energy services.
The programme will foster collaboration between community energy schemes and grid operators, policy-makers and the wider energy industry to deliver the energy system transformation that we need.
Power to Change’s vision is to ‘create better places through community business’, by reviving local assets, protecting services, and addressing local needs. We believe Community Energy Businesses (CEBs) will be a major contributor to this goal.
What will the programme do?
1) New business models for existing community energy groups
Existing community energy businesses will be supported to develop into holistic energy businesses that provide benefits across their local community. We will award grants of up to £100,000 to ten community energy businesses, alongside a support programme of research and analysis. See our Grants page for more detail on how to apply.
2) Renewable energy asset transfer from the private sector to the community sector
Power to Change believes more communities should be able to generate their own energy and reinvest the profits to benefit local people. That’s why we’ve partnered with Big Society Capital to create CORE LLP partners, to provide additional capital to fund the purchase of existing solar farms, currently in private ownership. CORE will then hold the solar farms in trust while the local community develop the capacity to buy these back. Through the Next Generation programme, these communities will be skilled up and supported to make this transfer happen as smoothly as possible and will also receive support with further business planning to develop other more innovative local energy business models, once they have an anchor asset of their own.
If you believe there is a suitable solar asset in or very near to your community that is or will shortly be available on the market, please contact CORE directly about the asset transfer element of the programme.
3) Learning and impact for the community energy sector
Working closely with Community Energy England, we will make ensure that all materials and resources emerging from this programme are made available to the whole community energy sector, through a peer mentoring and sector learning scheme.
We will also work with industry and policy makers to demonstrate how and why community energy businesses should be central to the energy system transformation. The learning and impact elements of the scheme will launch in 2019. For details and updates, please visit this page.
Who will deliver the support programme?
Next Generation will be delivered by a multi-disciplinary consortium made up of the Centre for Sustainable Energy (lead partner), Everoze Partners, Low Carbon Hub, Cooperatives UK, Cooperative Futures, Social and Sustainable Capital, and SFW Communications.
These seven organisations have unrivalled experience of designing, setting up and administering major national community energy grant and support programmes, as well as being pioneering experts in engaging communities in energy issues and supporting them to create successful local energy projects, grounded in social and behavioural science.
The consortium partners have a complete understanding of the technical and economic realities of Community Energy Businesses (CEBs) in the current economic, regulatory and policy environment, and of the financing of CEBs.