Energy and energy supply have been in the news recently with concerns over whether Northern Ireland will face a shortage if the Inter-Connector is not built. Sadly what this and the majority of discussions over energy supply miss is the role and opportunities for both engaging and involving communities.
At the recent ‘Big Ideas: Festival of Economics’ in August run by NICVA, Community Energy NI held a session focussing on why communities in Northern Ireland and the third sector are largely passive when it comes to energy and how community energy could make a significant contribution to transforming our economy.
Using examples and statistics as well as exploring government policy throughout the UK, the presentation highlighted how community energy can contribute to economic growth, provide a long term source of income for communities, help to tackle fuel poverty and reduce energy bills.
The untapped potential which exists in Northern Ireland could become an integral part of energy development. One of the many benefits listed in the presentation is that community energy has the ability to empower and give autonomy to local people, strengthening communities, providing greater community cohesion and resilience.
Community Energy NI used the opportunity to focus on the potential for communities to power change by laying out in the presentation how to 1: generate community energy; 2: manage energy usage; 3. purchase energy; and 4: reduce energy usage.
The presentation concludes by raising the point that communities here are leaders in social enterprise in many areas including credit unions, early years provision, enterprise centres etc yet community energy remains a hugely unbroached area. However, with the right support and guidance it can grow and develop.
To view Community Energy NI’s presentation at the Big Ideas Festival of Economics CLICK HERE
For more information on Community Energy contact Hazel McFarland at the Fermanagh Trust (E: firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 028 66 320 210)