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Authors Phil Green
Published 2015
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Community energy is considered here in the context of the wider topic of Sustainable energy.

Sustainable energy is defined, for the purposes of this article, as energy which, in its production or consumption, has minimal negative impacts on human health and the healthy functioning of vital ecological systems, including the global environment, and that can be supplied continuously to future generations on earth. Such forms of energy include, but are not limited to the following: solar thermal, solar photo-voltaic (PV), wind, hybrid wind-solar, fuel cell, geothermal, small-scale (mini- and pico-) hydro-electric, tidal and wave. This definition specifically excludes nuclear and fossil fuel energy or their "improvements" as an option thereof.[1]

See also: Video

Community action projects[edit | edit source]

  • Microgeneration
  • Community energy projects
  • Energy awareness weeks
  • Promoting energy efficiency
  • Energy audits
  • Fuel poverty Projects
  • Energy Credit Unions
  • Community owned energy sources
  • Sustainable hydropower
  • Community solar gardens

Energy poverty[edit | edit source]

Energy poverty is lack of access to modern energy services. It refers to the situation of large numbers of people in developing countries whose well-being is negatively affected by very low consumption of energy, use of dirty or polluting fuels, and excessive time spent collecting fuel to meet basic needs. It is inversely related to access to modern energy services, although improving access is only one factor in efforts to reduce energy poverty. Energy poverty is distinct from fuel poverty, which focuses solely on the issue of affordability.

According to the Energy Poverty Action initiative of the World Economic Forum, "Access to energy is fundamental to improving quality of life and is a key imperative for economic development. In the developing world, energy poverty is still rife. Nearly 1.6 billion people still have no access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).". As a result of this situation, a new UN initiative has been launched to coincide with the designation of 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All, which has a major focus on reducing energy poverty. W

Community solar farm[edit | edit source]

Westmill Solar Cooperative 1.jpg

A community solar farm or garden is a solar power installation that accepts capital from and provides output credit and tax benefits to individual and other investors. In some systems you buy individual solar panels which are installed in the farm after your purchase. In others you purchase kW capacity or kWh of production. The farm's power output is credited to investors in proportion to their investment, with adjustments to reflect ongoing changes in capacity, technology, costs and electricity rates. Companies, cooperatives, governments or non-profits operate the farms.

Centralizing the location of solar systems has advantages over residential installation that include:

  • Trees, roof size and/or configuration, adjacent buildings, the immediate microclimate and/or other factors which may reduce power output.
  • Building codes, zoning restrictions, homeowner association rules and aesthetic concerns.
  • Lack of skills and commitment to install and maintain solar systems.
  • Expanding participation to include renters and others who are not residential property owners. W

See also: Community solar

Decentralized energy[edit | edit source]

Distributed energy, also district or decentralized energy is generated or stored by a variety of small, grid-connected devices referred to as distributed energy resources (DER) or distributed energy resource systems.

Conventional power stations, such as coal-fired, gas and nuclear powered plants, as well as hydroelectric dams and large-scale solar power stations, are centralized and often require electricity to be transmitted over long distances. By contrast, DER systems are decentralized, modular and more flexible technologies, that are located close to the load they serve, albeit having capacities of only 10 megawatts (MW) or less.

DER systems typically use renewable energy sources, including small hydro, biomass, biogas, solar power, wind power, and geothermal power, and increasingly play an important role for the electric power distribution system. A grid-connected device for electricity storage can also be classified as a DER system, and is often called a distributed energy storage system (DESS). By means of an interface, DER systems can be managed and coordinated within a smart grid. Distributed generation and storage enables collection of energy from many sources and may lower environmental impacts and improve security of supply. W

Energy audit[edit | edit source]

An energy audit is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s). An energy audit is the first step in identifying opportunities to reduce energy expense and carbon footprints. W

Energy efficiency[edit | edit source]

According to the International Energy Agency, improved energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world's energy needs in 2050 by one third, and help control global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the twin pillars of sustainable energy policy and are high priorities in the sustainable energy hierarchy. In many countries energy efficiency is also seen to have a national security benefit because it can be used to reduce the level of energy imports from foreign countries and may slow down the rate at which domestic energy resources are depleted. W

Microgeneration[edit | edit source]

Microgeneration is the small-scale generation of heat and electric power by individuals, small businesses and communities to meet their own needs, as alternatives or supplements to traditional centralized grid-connected power. Although this may be motivated by practical considerations, such as unreliable grid power or long distance from the electrical grid, the term is mainly used currently for environmentally conscious approaches that aspire to zero or low-carbon footprints or cost reduction. W

Microgrids[edit | edit source]

Microgrids are modern, localized, small-scale grids, contrary to the traditional, centralized electricity grid (macrogrid). Microgrids can disconnect from the centralized grid and operate autonomously, strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances. They are typically low-voltage AC grids, often use diesel generators, and are installed by the community they serve. Microgrids increasingly employ a mixture of different distributed energy resources, such as solar hybrid power systems, which reduce the amount of emitted carbon significantly. W

Sustainable community energy system[edit | edit source]

A sustainable community energy system is an integrated approach to supplying a local community with its energy requirements from renewable energy or high-efficiency co-generation energy sources. The approach can be seen as a development of the distributed generation concept.

Such systems are based on a combination of district heating, district cooling, plus 'electricity generation islands' that are interlinked via a private wire electricity system (largely bypassing the normal power grid to cut transmission losses and charges, as well as increasing the robustness of the system). The surplus from one generating island can therefore be used to make up the deficit at another. W

Resources[edit | edit source]

Networks[edit | edit source]

Creative Commons

LeNSes (Learing Network on Sustainable energy systems), multi-polar Network for curricula and lifelong learning capacity development focused on System Design for Sustainable Energy for All. It is a 3 year project (Oct 2013 - Oct 2016) funded by the European Commission (ACP-EU Edulink II), involving 3 design schools in Europe and 4 in Africa.


100% Renewable Energy Cities & Regions Network, iclei.org

micro hydropower on Yahoo Groups

Sustainable ebergy on pinterest

Citizens data initiative[edit | edit source]

In developing countries, more than 1 billion people have no access to reliable electricity and more than 2.5 billion people rely on polluting and inefficient biomass and coal use for cooking and heating.[2]

How to's[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

The world by renewable energy use, mapped, Jun 30, 2017, indy100.com

work with the sun®, Mapdwell

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"My passion isn't for hydro, it's for people taking control of their own futures." Ann Harding, Settle Hydro [3]

Video[edit | edit source]

Other resources[edit | edit source]

News and comment[edit | edit source]

See separate article: Community energy news

Campaigns[edit | edit source]

  • Reclaim Power, global collaboration connecting climate and energy struggles

Near you[edit | edit source]

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Community energy UK - Community energy UK news - Community energy USA

local information can be found, or shared, via our many location pages

See also[edit | edit source]


External links[edit | edit source]

Solarcooking, wikia.com: GoSol.org

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Nuclear power is sometimes presented as a sustainable, clean energy source. However, "(a)s long as the limited supply of rich uranium ores hold out, the nuclear energy fuel chain does indeed, after about 7 years of operation, produce less CO2 than a gas-burning plant. But when the uranium content of ores gets below around 0.05%, it becomes doubtful if nuclear power will lead to the production of any less CO2 than just burning fossil fuel directly." (IVEM Centre for Energy & Environmental Studies, University of Groningen, Netherlands, April 2001). Further, "at all stages of nuclear power generation, nuclear energy produces substantial amounts of waste and environmental pollution (from uranium mining tailings through to spent nuclear fuel, plutonium, and other highly radioactive wastes). [Although the nuclear reactor of a nuclear power station does not, in itself, produce any CO2,] the nuclear fuel chain is a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions; it causes radioactive contamination of the air, water and land…and encourages the proliferation of nuclear weapons…" (Pacific News Bulletin, January 2001.)
  2. wwf.org.uk
  3. Living with rats, March 18 2010