Community Innovation & Support Officer

Are you experienced in working with community organisations and in community development? If so, and you also possess knowledge of the renewable energy sector, decarbonisation, climate accounting and Net Zero, we could be interested in hearing from you.

We are looking to recruit an energetic, well-organised and self-motivated individual to work as part of a team delivering Carbon Neutral Island Plans. You will be responsible for developing community climate change plans on the six carbon neutral islands, which build on the depth climate accounting exercises being carried out as part of this project.

Your high standard of communication, representation and co-ordination skills will serve to support island communities carry out meaningful local participation and engagement to inform the Community Climate Plans.

For more information and an application form, please visit our Careers & Opportunities page.

Climate Accounting Officer

Research not accounts! Do you have effective partnership-building skills, and practical and effective experience of partnership working, especially with community groups? Knowledge of the renewable energy sector, decarbonisation, climate accounting and Net Zero is also essential for this role.

We are looking to recruit an energetic, well-organised and self-motivated individual to work as part of a team delivering Carbon Neutral Island Plans. You will be responsible for delivery of an in-depth climate accounting exercise on the six carbon neutral islands to provide the community with a clear account of the state of greenhouse gas emissions related to each island.

Experienced in research projects and working to funding specifications, your strong team-working skills in a research focussed manner and a good understanding of community development will help drive the success of this project.

For more information and an application form, please visit our Careers & Opportunities page.

Development Manager Vacancy

If you have a creative mind, excellent networking and project development skills, and a track record in identifying and accessing project funding opportunities, this could be the perfect job for you.

Community Energy Scotland is Scotland’s only charity dedicated to supporting local communities develop their own decarbonisation projects and an outstanding Development Manager is vital for us to continue this work.

Experienced in community energy and committed to our values, you will be able to work effectively on your own and as part of our energetic team.

For more information and an application form, please visit our Careers & Opportunities page.

Network 76 in Motion Project Officer Vacancy

Are you interested in hands-on community development that focuses on sustainable transport solutions? If so, we have a full time vacancy providing an exciting opportunity for a role helping to decarbonise communities in South West Scotland.

We are looking to recruit an N76 Project Officer to work on sustainable transport solutions in Dumfries & Galloway and East Ayrshire. Network 76 in Motion (N76) is a project developed together by six communities on and around the A76 with support from Community Energy Scotland.

There is some flexibility with the work location for this post.

For more information and an application pack, please visit our Careers & Opportunities page.

Community Energy: State of the Sector 2022 report. Read it now.

This year’s report was produced by Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and Community Energy Scotland, and is available to read from today. It describes the progress of the community energy sector across the UK in 2021 as well as providing a breakdown of the sector’s activities in each nation. This marks the second year that Scottish data has been gathered and is the first year that the survey and report was produced in-house by the three national community energy organisations.

As always, we are very grateful to all organisations that took the time to complete the survey this year. Maintaining an up to date database is crucial if we are to encourage and persuade policy-makers and other stakeholders to create a more supportive policy landscape for community energy at local, regional and national level.

We are also grateful to SP Energy Networks, our sponsors of this year’s report. Scott Mathieson, Director of Planning and Regulation at SP Energy Networks said:

 “We are delighted to support the State of the Sector report for a fourth year. This year’s report is providing timely data for us, which we will be studying carefully to ensure we can support our local communities in the best possible way to help them realise their net zero ambitions.”

Community Energy Fortnight 2022

Community Energy Fortnight is a social media platform held over two weeks that enables groups to share their experiences of community energy – both the challenges and the success stories.

Your opportunity to amplify your voice!

This year’s programme emphasises the cost of living crisis and increasing rates of fuel poverty experienced within our communities. Using the hashtag #EfficiencyFirst to raise awareness of the real-life effects on the lives of communities and individuals, we will share the ways in which you support those you represent.

#EfficiencyFirst spreads the word and highlights our sector’s significant contribution to a just transition and climate crisis solutions.

Quick and easy to get involved – a simple image, comment or quote will do. Click here for more information & suggestions.

Tag us in so we can spread the word: we have +1k followers on Facebook & +4k on Twitter!

Decision-makers need to know about what we do in our sector and the solutions we create – make that message loud & clear between 11-24 June!

What is the RIIO-ED2 Business Plan and why is it important for Community Energy?

For the last two years, in addition to his regular role, CES’ Benny Talbot has been inputting to the RIIO ED2 process for deciding how our energy networks are invested in. Below he reflects on
the process, and the likely changes ahead.

What is RIIO and why does it matter?

RIIO was created as a way to agree 5 year investment plans between Ofgem (the energy system regulator) and the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) who own the network. This is needed for two main reasons. Firstly, because DNOs are sole network owners and operators in a given area, overseen by the regulator, Ofgem, which aims to create economic competition, ensuring that existing and future consumers pay a fair price for the cost of running these networks and get the services they require – the DNOs must balance this with the need to ensure the UK remains internationally competitive to shareholder investment; and secondly because ownership of the UK distribution network is divided between 14 regions, owned by 6 separate companies, so RIIO is there to help Ofgem set common standards for investments and standards of service across the whole of the UK.

UK DNO Regions
Image credit: Barryob at English Wikipedia

While in practice RIIO is a long and complicated process, the essence of it is quite simple – first Ofgem sets out its expectations, then each DNO draws up and costs an investment plan to meet those expectations, and finally Ofgem reviews the plans and makes a decision on which parts of the plans to OK, and which to challenge or reject. All investment agreed upon is ultimately charged by the DNOs to energy consumers via their bills, plus a regulated profit margin.

However, the Climate Crisis has transformed RIIO from a complex but routine budgeting excise for maintaining the grid, into a key strategic forum to ensure we can achieve net zero, due to the massive strategic investment now needed to enable the grid to support the electrification of heat and transport, and the continued expansion of renewables.

This has also placed a dilemma at the heart of the RIIO process. Keeping investment as low as possible would mitigate the already spiralling cost of living crisis, but exacerbate the very real risk that constraints on the electricity network prevent or delay effective climate action. A better way forwards would be to pay for strategic investment in our networks via progressive taxation, not energy bills – but that decision is rests with the government. Until then, Ofgem is forced to navigate between two competing demands: fuel poverty, or climate action?

The RIIO process is struggling to evolve to meet these new tensions. In particular, given the rapid changes we are seeing in climate plans, targets, and the technology evolving to help meet these needs, the 5 year planning cycles of RIIO are beginning to look increasingly clunky. Instead, an increasing number of ad hoc ‘uncertainty mechanisms’ are being proposed to allow decision making within the 5 year periods. However, the devil will be in the detail of these new uncertainty mechanisms, and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to reach the right decisions, decide fast enough, or enable meaningful consultation with energy system users.

‘DSO’ and the implications for Community Energy

My role in all of this was as a member of the Consumer Engagement Group (CEG) for the SP Energy Networks (SPEN) region (the SP Energy Networks region covers southern Scotland, northern Wales and Merseyside). Over the course of the last two years, as SPEN developed their plan, they were to provide us with regular updates and the CEG was tasked with challenging SPEN’s plans to ensure that the needs and preferences of the energy system’s users were being taken into account. The CEG then wrote our own report on SPEN’s plan, to help Ofgem make its final decision.

Within the CEG, I led on responding to SPEN’s ‘DSO’ plans. DSO stands for Distribution System Operator, and describes a change in how networks could operate, in order to free up significant extra capacity. The basic idea is that instead of running a ‘fit and forget’ system, with enough spare capacity to ride out even the largest expected surges in demand or generation, DNOs could use modern digital technology to monitor and control power flows in real time. Much more demand and generation could then be connected to the existing wires, because the DNO would be confident that when the occasional surge in generation or demand arrived they could detect it and respond in real time (eg. by temporarily turning down some loads or generators) and keep the network safe. While there is no way to avoid the need for massive new investment in the network to enable net zero, DSO could reduce these costs and free up network capacity faster than would otherwise be possible.

However for DSO to really succeed, there will need to be a change in how we as energy users relate to the network. This is beginning to be seen as a need for ‘democratisation’ of the network, with energy users becoming more important and active participants – and also an opportunity for customers to earn money by providing ‘flexibility’ services to the DNO, in turning energy use or generation up and down to help manage network constraints. Of course, sharing more data on our energy use and installing new smart technology also comes with risks. Foremost among these are a loss of privacy, increasingly complex electricity bills, and/or those who are less tech savvy being left behind, ending up with systems they don’t understand and paying more for their energy.

Community energy groups, as local trusted intermediaries, should have a key role in bringing people together to navigate this new system, and support those who will otherwise be left behind. Meanwhile DSO could also open up new opportunities for community-led local energy projects, for example where groups bring together local energy users or generators to contract with their DNO and collectively deliver ‘flexibility’ services to the network.

SPEN’s RIIO ED2 DSO plans contain significant commitments, including; to roll out network monitoring and real time control via ‘CMZ’ zones (which can include Active Network Management) across around half of their network by 2028; to provide 80% of new generators with a flexible connection option alongside their standard connection offer; and adopt an ’assumed open’ process for the data they collect, sharing it via an online hub.

CEG photo images’ credit: SP Energy Networks

Among other issues, I challenged SPEN on how well they were able to consult on their DSO plans given the complexity of this new field, to provide much more specific commitments on what network data they will share, and to give meaningful consideration to where supporting domestic energy efficiency could be used as an alternative to network reinforcement. SPEN now propose to set up an independent panel to ensure that customers and stakeholders’ needs are represented as the DSO rollout continues, and have fleshed out their proposals for data sharing to include real time data and impending curtailment forecasts on ANM networks to enable curtailment trading – data that community generators on Orkney (in the SSEN rather than SPEN zone) have been requesting for the last 5 years.

Challenges from me and colleagues in the CEG also played a key role in SPEN deciding to publish a Just Transition Strategy and a Community Energy Strategy for the first time, both of which SPEN now propose to maintain and update regularly. I was impressed at how SPEN staff took forward these issues, recognising the significant role that community groups could play, and coming forwards with proposals significantly beyond the baseline required by Ofgem, including proposing a £30 million Net Zero fund (of which 25% would be ring fenced for support of community energy), and to provide dedicated community energy advice, awareness raising and technical support services, as well as support to local authorities in making Local Area Energy Plans.

Some key outstanding questions remain. Firstly, whether (and how) SPEN and other DNOs will recognise the potential for domestic energy efficiency upgrades to be used as an alternative to reinforcing the network. Secondly, how far DSO should be run as a separate entity to the DNO to avoid conflicts of interest – SPEN haven’t gone as far in separating the two as some UKPN, for example. Finally, it remains to be seen both exactly how much extra capacity DSO will free up, how cheaply, and how fast new capacity will actually be needed in the network; but the crucial mechanisms for monitoring its effectiveness, and scaling DSO and traditional network investment accordingly are not yet entirely clear.

SPEN’s RIIO ED2 plan and their DSO plan have now been published and can be viewed online, as can the CEG’s report on these plans to Ofgem. Ofgem will hold an open hearing on SPENs plan on 24th March, which is open to the public to attend, and expect to make final determinations on all plans this winter. The RIIO ED2 plans will then guide network investment from 2023 to 2028.

Benny Talbot, Innovation Development Manager @CES

At Community Energy Scotland we value our team’s and communities’ opinions. Blogs are a chance for us, our members and guests to share personal opinions and expertise, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Community Energy Scotland as an organisation. Please note opinions may change and Community Energy Scotland does not offer any endorsements.

An Introduction to the SG Carbon Neutral Islands Project

In 2021 the Scottish Government announced the Carbon Neutral Islands project, a commitment to support up to 6 islands in their efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. The project is being led by Dr Francesco Sindico of the University of Strathclyde who brings expertise in island law and policy and climate change.

The Government are holding a series of webinars during week commencing 14 March 2022, to provide island communities with an opportunity to learn more about the project. Speakers will include colleagues from the Scottish Government Islands Team leading the Carbon Neutral Islands project. Please register for the session that works best for you and we look forward to sharing you more information about the Carbon Neutral Islands Project.


Tuesday, 15 March 12.30 – 13.30

Wednesday, 16 March 16.00 – 17.00

Thursday, 17 March 19.00 – 20.00

Three Months On: Reflections on the legacy of COP26

Given another winter of restrictions, variants, uncertainty, and now punishing storms, it would be easy to forget that only three months ago, Glasgow played host to the world’s largest summit on global action for climate change: COP26.

For those able to be in Glasgow at the time the memories may have lingered longer: morning queues, frenetic hallways, busy meeting rooms, lecture theatres and cafes. People, people and more people! From hardened protesters outside the conference entrance to inspirational speakers at events, marches as part of the Climate Fringe, and experts, officials and dignitaries participating within COP26 official boundaries. But for many the conference and its legacy are likely to have faded to memory as soon as headlines moved on to a new topic. With some time now since the conference to spur people on to acting rather than talking, it seems right to take a look around at the legacy of COP26 so far.

With an event of the grandeur and significance of COP26, the risk of underwhelming or anti-climactic outcomes is always high. Alongside claims from figures such as Greta Thunberg that the conference was no more than a greenwashing opportunity for governments and businesses, and disappointment in the seemingly undercooked “Glasgow Climate Pact”, there are encouraging signs that gears of change may be starting to turn across in both Government and society across Scotland.

Indeed, the ScotWind auction results announced earlier in the year bring the promise of a step change in Scotland’s sustainability journey; the potential generation capacity of 25GW from Scotland’s renewables is more than double the currently installed renewable generation. As with COP26, this step has been led by business and government. Thus, the jury is out on whether the potential for community benefit from offshore developments is delivered. Proactive developers signing Memorandums of Understanding with local authorities and community development trusts is a promising sign of wider ScotWind benefit, as is work by organisations such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise to inform regional businesses of upcoming supply chain opportunities. However, the proof will be in the pudding as to how far and wide the benefits of ScotWind are blown.

On a community scale the level of local, regional and national cooperation and coordination that brought such a hive of activity to Glasgow and beyond, and which was oft mentioned by those within the Blue Zone of COP26, has gone from strength to strength, a new era of re-invigorated regional partnerships of organisations taking action on climate change and sustainability seems to be dawning. Supported by the Scottish Government, two Regional Community Climate Action Hubs covering the Northern Highlands and Islands and Aberdeenshire have been established and are busy taking unique approaches to supporting their networks and local communities.

Building on these trials with the intention of setting up networks which will be primed to launch a second round of hubs, the Scottish Community Climate Action Network are accepting Expressions of Interest from regions interested in establishing their own networks and building more collective action. These initiatives are encouraging to say the least and hopefully reflect a new approach to engaging and acting on climate change from the Scottish Government. Supporting well-informed organisations to act locally and find solutions that work where they work.

Despite media attention somewhat predictably moving back to sleaze and scandal in the South and the ever rising scale of the climate challenge ahead we can take heed that we are moving in the right direction and the will of communities who wish to continue to make Scotland a more sustainable place to live remains strong. COP27 is now only 9 months away and no doubt will bring with it another round to virtue signalling, target setting and enthusiastic posturing, all necessary parts of the process of changes perhaps.

The current crisis in Ukraine has of course thrown the partnership expressed at COP into doubt and the safety and sovereignty of Ukraine and its population will rightly take priority over global efforts to achieve sustainability. However, the climate crisis will not go away and now more than ever we must collaborate locally, nationally and internationally to create action and change from the many discussions of COP26. We can take some comfort in the signs of change emerging and the day-in-day-out efforts of individuals, communities and organisations working for a more sustainable future in a post COP Scotland.

Matthew Logan, Development Officer @CES

At Community Energy Scotland we value our team’s and communities’ opinions. Blogs are a chance for us, our members and guests to share personal opinions and expertise, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Community Energy Scotland as an organisation. Please note opinions may change and Community Energy Scotland does not offer any endorsements.

State of the Sector survey – LIVE!

The State of the Sector Report is rapidly becoming a go-to reference point both within and outside the community energy sector. The 2022 State of the Sector survey is live from today and you can find it here.

The report remains the most comprehensive dataset on community energy in the UK, even more so since Scotland’s community energy groups joined forces for the first time with England, Wales and Ireland last year.

Informative and inspirational, it has been building traction and growing the voice of the community energy sector in the wider world. As well as being cited in the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy, the report has been referenced by the Environment Audit Committee and numerous MPs during debates about local energy supply and the Local Energy Bill.

The data we captured last year, with thanks to community groups for their co-operation and sharing of their information, has been stored and we are looking for updates in 2022. If you took part in the 2021 survey, you won’t need to repeat information already passed on to us, however any new information is critical for the report to remain accurate and relevant.

For those who may be completing the survey for the first time in 2022, it is difficult to stress the importance of the facts you intend to share, so please pass on as much information as possible. There is an email address in the survey for you to get in touch for any help or questions.

By working together producing these reports, we help create a policy, regulatory and support environment that empowers us all to drive the reduction and flexible management of energy demand at the local level, across Scotland.

The full 2022 State of the Sector Report will be available later this year and we are looking forward to the results.

We have provided a downloadable pdf of the survey for those who would prefer to view the questions and prepare their responses prior to submitting online.

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