The UK energy market is on the cusp of a revolution. The country is disillusioned with the current big six and in dire need of a new model. Something needs to be done to create a greener, fairer market for everyone. But is community energy really the way forward? And is it even possible to achieve?
The short answer is yes on both counts. We only have to look to Europe to see that not only is community energy widespread, it has also been incredibly successful.
Germany is in the midst of what has been termed the Energiewende (energy transformation). Following the Fukushima disaster, Angela Merkel announced an about turn in the country’s energy policy, moving away from a dependence on nuclear energy and instead encouraging investment in renewables. They’re already off to an incredible start. In 2012 green entrepreneurs provided a massive 22 per cent of Germany’s electricity.
Community led renewable energy is at the heart of this transformation. In the UK only 10% of renewable energy is currently owned by individuals or communities. In Germany that number is a massive 65%. There are currently 1.3 million renewable energy producers across the country, all helping to break the stranglehold of major power suppliers.
In 2006 the village of Juehnde became the first in Germany to be completely energy self sufficient. The municipality powers the community using bio-energy, such as methane from manure and wood chips. Not only is the scheme is so successful that it meets all their energy needs, providing enough energy to heat and power the village, it produces twice as much electricity as is required, meaning it is able to sell the excess back to the national grid. Yearly, Juehnde is able to turn over a profit €350,000. Not too shabby.
In the south-west of the country, the little hamlet of Feldheim is also making waves with its energy independence. The whole village is powered by local wind turbines and a biogas heat plant powered by slurry from the surrounding farms. But they didn’t stop there. Once they were producing all their energy renewably, the residents decided that the next step would be to end their dependence on the major providers completely. When their energy provider refused to sell them their part of the grid, they all chipped in and had their own built. Now each villager pays 31 per cent less for their electricity and the project has created about 30 jobs. There’s only been one downside - the success of their scheme has brought thousands of visitors to the sleepy village, much to the annoyance of the private residents.
Denmark is also a pioneer in community energy, offering families a tax exemption for generating their own electricity. Because many cannot afford purchasing a wind turbine outright, people have long been encouraged to purchase shares in wind turbine cooperatives. There are now currently over 100,000 Danish families belonging to wind cooperatives, and 86% of the countries wind-energy is locally owned.
Indeed, such is the success of community wind energy that the Danish island of Samsø claims to be the largest carbon-neutral settlement on the planet.
Community energy works. It is at the heart of both Germany and Denmark’s admirable - and successful - drives towards a greener, cheaper energy culture where local communities can come together to mutually enjoy the benefits of local energy supply. Now it’s time to embrace it in Britain.
OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.