About Next Generation

Next Generation aimed 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 was funded by Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England from 2019 to 2022.

Vision 

The vision of Power to Change 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.

Traditional models of community energy, such as owning renewable energy assets, have become less viable due to policy change. However, the community energy sector is uniquely placed to take advantage of the move to a smarter and more decentralised energy system.

The purpose of the Next Generation programme was to help the sector innovate, test and develop new business models to deliver more holistic and integrated local energy services. 

The programme aimed to promote collaboration between community energy schemes and grid operators, policy-makers and the wider energy industry, to deliver the energy system transformation that we need.

Approach

The Next Generation programme was delivered through three different strands in order to realises the benefits of the programme across variety of Community Energy organisations. 

1) Community Solar: 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. In this part of the programme we worked with CORE LLP partners to support 6 community energy organisations to take community ownership of 8 ground mounted solar arrays (40 MGW in total). See our Community Solar page for more detail.

2) Innovation: New business models for existing community energy groups

Through an open competition, 11 existing community energy businesses were selected to pilot post Feed in Tariff businesses models that provide benefits across their local community with support from the Next Generation consortium. See our Innovation page for more detail.


3) Peer mentoring: For the community energy sector

Working closely with Cooperatives UK, we selected nine mentors to work with a wide range of community organisations to share knowledge and strengthen the community energy sector through a peer mentoring programme. We have also worked closely with CAG consultants and Community Energy England to ensure that learning and materials generated through the Next Generation programme are widely disseminated for the benefit of the whole sector. See our Peer mentoring page for more detail.  

Who delivered the programme?

Next Generation was 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.