In this update on Luisa’s research, she is seeking your views on energy democracy – please take a few minutes to fill in her survey at the end of this update –
The importance of Community Energy Groups aiming to achieve Energy Democracy
Remaining under-defined and more of a political ‘buzzword’ the term energy democracy represents a shift from the corporate, centralized fossil fuel-based energy system to one that is governed by communities, designed on the principle of no harm to the environment and aims to supporting local economies. As of yet it has struggled to break through as a real-life concept, however, inevitable challenges in the energy sector are opening the opportunity for change. The decarbonisation of the energy system and increased deployment of renewable energy sources have been made possible through continuously decreasing costs of renewable technology over the past three decades. This has led to a range of possibilities for locally produced and consumed energy. By bringing demand and supply geographically closer, distributed renewables embedded in the energy system not only offer the potential to change the organisation of the energy sector but to create foundations for a democratic electricity system.
Democracy rests upon the principle that fundamentally humans are equal and ought to be allowed to managed their collective affairs in an egalitarian fashion. Relating this to our current energy landscape societal actors should make the decisions which shape their lives. Such choices should be established jointly without regards solely to the principle of profit. The UK is beginning a transition to a soft energy path based on renewable energy generation, this has huge potential for some individuals to generate and produce their own energy in a form and scale most appropriate to meet their needs. As a result, community energy groups are rapidly emerging in the energy landscape, this not only benefits communities and individuals it also opens the opportunity for the UK energy sector to begin to meet key principles that contribute to energy democracy.
Epitomizing the possibilities of a movement away from current energy systems, energy democracy draws upon four main principles.
- Ensuring society has access to sufficient and affordable energy, making the energy mix as renewable as possible
- putting the needs of society first by encouraging public and social ownership
- guaranteeing fair pay and
- the generation of green jobs.
The importance for society to embrace the key elements of energy democracy is paramount to ensuring a sustainable and secure future for energy systems within the UK.
As the momentum behind the energy democracy concept continues to grow, studies across the globe are increasingly providing an understanding of how community energy groups are able to impact their members and local community. This enables researchers to assess if community energy groups have the capability to lead a transition to a democratic energy system and whether this phenomenon can be applied in the ‘real-world’ or is simply a theoretical concept.
Thank you, Norwich Community Solar followers, for reading my article. I am in the process of researching for my dissertation which aims to answer the following; ‘In practice or just theory; investigate if community energy groups in the UK can meet all the key principles of energy democracy’. I would really appreciate it you could take 10 minutes to fill out this survey as the results will help me to complete my dissertation. Thank you in advance for your participation.
Luisa, Company Secretary.