The end of Community Energy?

wind turbine in Blyth


12th August 2015 –  Please note, since this blog was published, there have been further announcements regarding Community Energy and renewable energy in general, and therefore this blog is no longer accurate. We will update this page as soon as time allows


2014 was a positive year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change began to support Community Energy, and there was the launch of Community Energy England (which we were one of the first commercial companies to join). Germany had shown with the numerous examples how it could work, and it seemed the UK government was supportive of similar measures over here. Community Energy could play a part in reducing fuel poverty, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and improving energy security.

What a difference a few months makes. Now the Community Energy sector in the UK is under serious threat due to two major policy changes.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have changed the rules under which Energy Co-operatives can be established, and their controversial interpretation of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act essentially means the successful model of Community Energy demonstrated in Germany is now ineligible in the UK. The FCA also wish Community Energy organisations to be restricted financially to ‘philanthropic levels’. To explain this in more detail, the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act was an attempt to consolidate existing legislation. However, the issue is with the FCA’s recent policy choices in interpreting what is meant by ‘co-op’, and ‘community benefit’. Rather than keeping to the flexibility provided by the UN-recognised definition of co-ops, or to modern conceptions of social enterprise, the FCA has defined co-ops narrowly to the exclusion of Community Energy generators. It is also seeking to implement a policy that in practice makes mutuality, commerciality, and social value, incompatible.

Secondly, the tax rules were changed. Unlike small companies, Community Energy schemes are now unable to benefit from two major schemes, the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief. According to Community Energy England, the change has successfully already placed 20 Community Energy projects in danger of collapse.

These two changes together are believed by many involved in the sector to be a successful attempt to remove Community Energy from the UK, and ensure it will never be possible to replicate the German success in the UK.

At Narec Distributed Energy, we work with communities on energy projects, helping communities generate energy and save energy, lowering levels of fuel poverty. This is something we wish to continue doing, and hope that the recent changes can be reversed.

Community Energy England are working hard to get an amendment into the upcoming Finance Bill to give Community Energy projects a two year transition period with regard to tax relief. The FCA changes are currently under consultation and are also being challenged.

For more details on this, and how you can help, contact Community Energy England on: policy@communityenergyengland.org and check their briefing document at http://communityenergyengland.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Unblocking-the-UK-Energy-Revolution-11-02-2015.pdf

For more on our Community Energy work, contact communityenergy@narecde.co.uk


Many thanks to Co-operatives UK for additional information contained within this blog

UK’s first accredited heat metering course developed

Heat meter training boardHeat meter training board

Narec Distributed Energy are proud to announce that working with industry and government they have created of the UK’s first accredited Heat Metering training course

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), set up to support renewable heat generation in the domestic sector, is now up and running and is offering tariff payments for supported technologies. In order for systems to be RHI compliant, installations must be made meter-ready and in most cases, applicants will require metering for payments to the system owner.

This new qualification is aimed at all staff involved in the selection, positioning or installation of heat meters in accordance with MCS and RHI Metering Guidance. It covers the knowledge and understanding of the requirements for metering renewable heat installations, including how to select, position, install and commission heat meters and components. The qualification has been designed and led by industry, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Ofgem, Beama, Hetas, Summit Skills and MCS.

Not only were NDE instrumental in the creation of this course, but the NDE Renewable Energy Training Centre in Blyth is the first training centre to be accredited for the delivery of this course.

If you are interested in attending the course, please contact NDE on 01670 543 006 or training@narecde.co.uk. If you are a sole trader or work for a company based in Sunderland or the Tees Valley, NDE may also be able to offer you 100% funded places on this course for a limited time.

Links:

Course description: http://www.narecde.co.uk/training/heat-metering

Funded training: http://www.narecde.co.uk/funded-renewable-energy-training/

British Standards release new BS5918 Code of Practice for Solar Heating

Evacuated tube solar thermal systemEvacuated tube solar thermal system (Thermomax, made in Belfast)

This standard is intended to help with the design and installation of solar heating equipment for domestic hot water (DHW). First published in 1980, it has been substantially rewritten and updated by a dedicated team of solar industry specialists, including Narec Distributed Energy.

It is especially intended to cover “ad-hoc” systems which typically represent UK practice, where the solar collectors and storage components are chosen from several providers and assembled on site, rather than a complete assembly from one source. Guidance is provided on controls, solar storage volumes, predicted solar energy gains, legionella risk assessment and installation practices.

Further information on the standard can be found at: http://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030177611

Funded renewable energy training for North East businesses

Delegates from Tees Valley and Sunderland on renewable energy coursesDelegates from Tees Valley and Sunderland on renewable energy courses

Narec Distributed Energy are providing a range of fully funded renewable energy training courses for businesses based in North East England. Training includes industry standard courses on the installation and maintenance of technologies (photovoltaics, solar thermal, heat pump and biomass), introductions to technologies, and community energy courses. The courses are offered to small-medium sized businesses (<250 employees) and sole traders.

The training is funded through a combination of the “European Regional Development Fund”, the “European Social Fund”, the UK Government’s “Skills Funding Agency” and some other sources. The funding is handled regionally in three sub-regional projects by Sunderland City Council, Hartlepool Borough Council and Northumberland County Council’s subsidiary company Business Northumberland. Different courses are offered based on where each company or sole trader is based. Courses are available for Northumberland, Sunderland and Tees Valley postcode based businesses, who meet a set of eligibility criteria.

If you are interested in recieving training, the full details of courses can be found here:

To enquire about training courses, please contact Ed Walker on 01670 357638 or ed.walker@narecde.co.uk