PUNL community energy roadmap shows Islington the way

PUNL has developed a Roadmap Report showing how community energy can help achieve Islington’s plan to be zero carbon by 2030 led by PUNL director Tanuja Pandit.

One of the conclusions is: “there are two main areas of community energy activity prevalent in cities: community financed, or grant financed renewable energy generation and energy efficiency/fuel poverty alleviation work.

CEGs can deliver demonstration projects for rooftop solar, renewable heat and retrofitting of community buildings and access low-cost funding.  Their connection to local people is a key asset in gaining public support, encouraging behaviour change and providing energy related advice to the neediest.

But they currently lack scale, and their resources are thinly spread. Islington Council therefore has a key role to play in harnessing these resources by coordinating and facilitating such groups and by providing them with resources.

In Section 1, this report sets out the context for community energy groups’ involvement in reducing carbon emissions and how they can contribute in the context of the Council’s Zero Carbon Report; Section 2 sets out how community groups can contribute, and the information and tools needed to scale-up their efforts; Section 3 describes alternative sources of finance and Section 4 lays out the way forward for delivering the recommendations in this report.

Islington Council declared a climate emergency on 27 June 2019 and in March 2020 published its zero carbon plan Vision 2030: Building a Net Zero Carbon Islington by 2030

The council has now set up eight work streams for delivering the priorities in their Zero Carbon Plan.
The roadmap presented in the report and developed by PUNL builds on five of the Vision 2030 Work Streams by proposing specific programmes to be delivered to local communities in the short and long-term.  It sets out the “what” and the “how” of achieving Zero Carbon 2030 with community engagement:  Work Streams are Buildings, housing, and infrastructure; Sustainable and affordable energy; Green Economy; and  Engaging, Empowering and Partnering and Finance and Investments.

Delivering zero carbon 2030 poses a range of complex and interlinked challenges and projects must be delivered in large numbers and at scale to make a step change in carbon emissions.  CEGs will need good data on available sites, information on the Council’s priorities, and platforms for collaboration so insights and learning can be shared and replicated. A prioritisation decision tool would enable the Council to segment and categorise their building stock.  This tool should also enable site prioritisation and selection to identify which sites are suitable for decarbonisation and in what order the measures should be installed.

 Behaviour change has a vitally important role in carbon reduction and the report focuses on public awareness and information campaigns, demonstration projects that can offer practical and implementable solutions, festivals, friendly competitions between neighbourhoods and repair workshops.
On finance the report looks at community share offers, green bonds and partnerships with the council and community organisations.

The report is funded by Community Energy London (CEL) as part of the GLA programme ‘Accelerating the Deployment of Community Energy Across London’.