Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme

The Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme will support up to 40 community energy groups in England to help them share their learning and experience.

Funded by the independent trust Power to Change, the peer support programme will encourage shared learning in order to replicate business models and support genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community businesses focused on locally-led solutions to net-zero.

This initiative builds on the Next Generation programme, which is supporting 11 new schemes, which include harvesting solar power to charge electric vehicles, switching to heat pumps in residential and community buildings to reduce emissions from heating, and exploring the use of new technologies to enable householders to use energy in a more flexible and environmentally conscious way.  

How can I get involved?

We are looking to support up to 40 community energy groups to develop and test new business models on behalf of the community energy sector. 

To be eligible for support through the Next Generation Peer mentoring programme, your project or community energy business must demonstrate how they are guided by 4 principles:

  • Innovation: Each project is exploring a new direction in which the community sector could evolve in a post-subsidy landscape.

  • Business models: The mentoring support aims to help test ideas which are not yet proven to work and get them off the ground, however the resulting projects aim to be self-sustaining business models which are not dependent on grants.

  • Community Impact: The projects encapsulate the Power to Change vision of creating better places through community business by benefiting and engaging local people.

  • Replication: business models and the associated learnings must be captured and disseminated for advancement of the community energy sector as a whole.

You will be matched with an experienced community energy mentor. We anticipate the mentoring will be on a 1 to 4 basis i.e. 1 mentor and 4 mentees. Mentoring will be around the topics identified in the match making process. This will maximise the reach and enhance the conversations. 

You will receive up to 4 days of peer mentoring support. The mentoring sessions will take place between March and September 2021. The pace, number and length of sessions will be flexible and client-led. Mentoring support is currently limited to phone and video calls and email due to Covid, but does not impact the quality of support being delivered. We anticipate that the mentoring will also include discussions and Q&A via a platform such as Loomio.


Apply to be a mentee

Please read this guidance for mentees before submitting an application.

We will also be hosting a webinar at 11am on 4th March for mentees to find out more information about the programme and ask any questions you may have. Please click here to register.

The following 10 mentors have been selected. If you have a preference of mentor please list them in your application and explain why you would like to be matched with them. We are not able to guarantee your choice of mentor but we will take preferences into account. 

Kayla Ente- Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative-

Toby Costin- Crew Energy-

Peter Capener- Bath and West Community Energy-

Simon Tilley- Hockerton Housing Project-

Jonathan Atkinson- Carbon Co-op-


Will Cottrell- Brighton Energy Coop-

Gill Fenna- Quantum Strategy & Technology Ltd-

Richard Watson- Energise Sussex Coast-

Michael Beech- RINA Tech UK Ltd-

Ben Dodd- Green Fox Community Energy Co-operative-

We would advise you to save your answers in a separate document and copy and paste them into the application once you are ready to submit as partially complete applications cannot be saved and completed at a later date using this application form. 

Applications open on 22 February 2021 and close on 15 March 2021.


You can apply to become a mentee here:

All final decisions relating to applications to the Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme, are made by our assessment panel.

Mentee applications will be appraised by the panel, hosted by Co-operatives UK.

If you have any queries about becoming a mentee please contact us at

Apply to be a mentor


Applications to become a mentor closed on 15th February 2021.

Benefits of participating


Running a community energy business is a challenge. Even with the right group of people in place, there will always be unknown issues and challenges ahead. Meeting other co‑ops through peer mentoring is a learning opportunity for both parties. Here are some more reasons to get involved:

  • Mentoring inspires, energises and motivates mentors and mentees to develop their potential and unleash the best in themselves.

  • It provides an opportunity to step outside of the day-to-day environment and use your professional skills in an entirely new and rewarding context.

  • Enhances interpersonal and communication skills and the transfer of these skills back into the work place.

  • Benefit from the practical experience accumulated by all members of the group and avoid reinventing the wheel.

  • Share successes and failures in an open and supportive environment.  

  • Gain a rewarding sense of job satisfaction and energy from helping others to develop and grow their co-op enterprise.

  • As a mentor you will receive funding and formalised approach to providing support to others.

  • Develop a greater understanding of learning styles and how to share knowledge by asking the right questions, in an appropriate and open manner.

  • Help you to recognise the huge amounts of tactical and practical experience you have gained through working in the community energy sector.

  • Can be used as part of continuous professional development (CPD).

Who is running the programme?

This is a partnership between Power to Change, Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Co-operatives UK.

Co-operatives UK will manage the Next Generation Community Energy Peer Mentoring programme. Co-operatives UK delivers a number of support programmes including The HIVE support programme for co-operatives across the UK and the Community Shares Booster Programme. Co-operatives UK ran the award winning Community Energy mentoring scheme that came to an end in back in 2015.

Closing and evolving into the peer learning


At the end of the mentoring sessions we expect that some groups may wish to continue to learn and collaborate. We will ask for feedback from mentors and mentees to find out what worked and what didn’t so that we can further refine, scale and develop the programme and establish how and if they wish to evolve the relationship in the medium-term.

We will also ask if there are any issues relevant to the wider community energy sector or questions you identified and were unable to resolve. We will assess how those might be taken forward on behalf of the sector.

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