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.

The National Campaign for a Community Energy Revolution

Image courtesy of Aberdeen Community Energy

Community energy has the potential to significantly reduce the costs that we all must pay for our energy. The work that community energy groups do across Scotland and the rest of the UK, beyond renewable generation, is as impressive as it is varied: from fuel poverty relief, to grant giving, to helping improve energy efficiency in their local areas.

In 2014, a government report stated that community energy could deliver 3,000 MW of power-generating capacity by 2020 and that the potential for growth beyond this was even more substantial. With Community Energy currently contributing around 330 MW, and having barely grown UK-wide since that report came out, it is clear that this potential has not been realised. Last year the Environmental Audit Committee said that by 2030 the community energy sector could be up to 20 times larger, if given the right policy support. Without that support however, this potential will continue to be wasted.

It is important to note how scalable Community Energy could be. This is not a niche thing to be enjoyed only by those lucky enough to have a scheme near them: there are extensive natural resources across Scotland that remain untapped. Many more local wind, solar and hydro installations could spring up all over the country, and thrive if given the chance.

The major block that must be removed is that at present it is impossible for community energy projects to sell the energy they generate directly to local people, except those who supply through necessity, as their communities are off-grid. The process of becoming an on-grid licenced supplier is wholly disproportionate – upwards of £1 million – and so burdensome that currently none exist across the whole of the UK.

Under the current regulations and excluding those off the grid, supply is only feasible at a national level. As a result, it is extremely difficult for local schemes to get a fair price for the energy they generate. At present they can either sell back into the grid or to a large national utility, both at fractions of the cost we all pay for our energy. Many projects struggle or go under, and many more find that setting up a project is not financially viable.

In the existing market setup, scaling up community energy is not feasible: we are campaigning for change. We have drafted the Local Electricity Bill, which is in Parliament as a proposed piece of legislation, and are building support to try and see it made law. The Bill would make the costs and complexities of becoming a local supplier proportionate to the scale of the generation project. This would fundamentally change the financials around setting up and running a community energy project, by creating a new potential source of revenue.

The benefits of such a change felt locally would be significant. If local people were able to buy their clean energy directly from a local co-operative supplier, not only would they be able to get it for a fairer price, but by keeping the money circulating within our local areas, that money could go towards supporting local businesses and new skilled local jobs, and could be reinvested into our communities through local initiatives like fuel poverty relief.

Over 80 national and international organisations have added their names in support of the Bill, including Solar Energy UK, British Hydropower Association, the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology, Energy Saving Trust, 4 of the UK’s 6 Distribution Network Operators (DNOs, the companies that own and manage the UK’s regional grid infrastructure), RSPB, The National Trust, Greenpeace, WWF and many more. Over 1000 local organisations and councils have also added their names in support all over the UK, and we are hoping that many more will continue to do so.

Through our work, and as a result of many people and organisations across the UK advocating often and loudly for the Bill, a cross-party group of 306 MPs have added their names in support. This is close to a majority in Parliament, and is extremely encouraging progress. If you have taken action for the Bill already, thank you very much – it is because of you that we are close to winning.

Back in November of last year, we organised a debate about the Bill in Parliament. Because it was well attended by MPs from all over the UK and from all major parties, the Energy Minister, Greg Hands, agreed to meet with us to discuss the technical detail of how the Bill could be implemented. As a result of this meeting with Mr Hands and his policy advisors, we have drafted a new policy discussion paper, and are in the process of scheduling another meeting.

The upcoming Energy Security Bill, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, is a fantastic opportunity. The first energy Bill for almost 10 years, its intentions are to ensure the security and decarbonisation of the UK’s energy supply. Community Energy should rightly be a part of these considerations, as it has huge potential to deliver both.

In the coming months, we plan to organise that provisions for Community Energy, such as those contained in the Local Electricity Bill, are included as a clause in this new Energy Security Bill. We are in a promising position: with 306 MPs on board already, nearly a majority in Parliament support the campaign. We will continue to work to ensure that this opportunity is not missed, and please do all that you can to help ensure that as well.

If you have not yet signed up to support our campaign, either as an organisation or as an individual, please do so. Our website has a list of all the MPs that support the Bill so far: if your MP does not yet support the Bill, please urge them to do so by writing to and meeting with them. If your MP does support it, please ask them to speak in favour of the need to enable and empower community energy generation schemes at the upcoming Second Reading of the Westminster Government’s

Energy Security Bill. If you would like suggested points to make when asking your MP to do this please get in touch with us.

A big thank you to everyone who has already been campaigning with us for this change. Together, we can win this.

Rupert Meadows, Campaigns and Engagement Officer, Power for People – Guest blog


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.

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.”

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.

Introducing Community Energy Fortnight! 14-27 June 2021

Community Energy (CE) Fortnight is an awareness-raising programme that has been adopted by Community Energy England in recent years and this year Community Energy Scotland and Community Energy Wales are also embracing the initiative!  We hope to host the programme in Scotland every year to provide a beneficial collective platform for community groups and to raise awareness of Community Energy in the public and policy domains.

This year there is an additional aim to raise the profile of community energy in the wider public arena ahead of COP26.

CE Fortnight has traditionally been a rallying cry to the sector to make use of its platform in extolling the virtues of all aspects of community energy. This year is no different and we are inviting you to share the energy-related benefits and wins – big and small – that you have experienced in your community. It could be from any part of a project including scoping at the very start, the planning stage or any point throughout it. You may be working on something new, and if so, put it out there!

You might have virtual tours, videos, podcasts, blogs or images. The 2021 theme is #WeThePower and we hope you will use this hashtag to connect with other community energy enthusiasts via social media. Please add other CE-related hashtags if there’s space in your message.

Use #WeThePower and #CEF2021 to share stories on social media about why you are passionate about community energy, community energy’s role in rebuilding a better world and your ambitions for the future! This covid crisis has reinforced the importance of community strength and we should use this time to explore how to build back better and stronger!

Remember to tag our accounts on Twitter and Facebook and make sure you let us know about your material so we can promote it.

Some suggested posts are:

  • Across Scotland and the UK, communities are working together to combat fuel poverty #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • We’ve been working to alleviate the impact of COVID19, read our story here *insert link to your website, or send us your story so we can host it for you!* #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Community energy helps reduce energy bills, supports the local economy & cuts CO2 emissions #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • What lessons have Scotland’s community energy organisations learned from COVID19? Share your story with us! #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Why are you passionate about community energy and what are the positive impacts of it? #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • What are your organisation’s community energy ambitions for the next decade? #CEF2021 #WeThePower
  • Community energy in the UK could contribute 3000MW, power 1.3 million homes, create 5000 jobs, save 1 million tones of CO2 emissions and add over £1 billion to the economy according to WPI modelling #CEF2021 #WeThePower

We the Power – a launchpad for Community Energy Fortnight 14-27 June

We the Power is a film (approx. 35 mins) about the citizen-led community-energy movement in Europe and the visionaries lighting the way. The film was created by the Patagonia company.

‘We the Power’ is also the theme for Community Energy Fortnight, a programme that will run 14 – 27 June – keep a look out on our social media platforms for more information over the coming weeks.

Whether your community has already experienced the benefits of generating/using its own energy, or whether it’s still a seed of an idea waiting to be planted, please sit back, enjoy the film and get in touch with us if you want to discuss renewable energy in your community. info@communityenergyscotland.org.uk 07920 182308

Join us to discuss community energy at COP26

As we move closer to COP26 in November we would like to invite you to discuss how CES and our members might engage with the event. We have been discussing a community energy presence at COP26 with a number of partners in the sector such as Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and REScoop and are keen to understand how we can support and represent our members through this partnership.

To do so we are hosting a Zoom call on Tuesday the 23rd of March at 4pm (details below). This will be a fairly informal and discursive call with the main points of discussion below. We hope to be joined at the meeting by representatives from Community Energy England and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland who will be able to share their plans and ideas for COP26.

Discussion points:

  • Current plans for engaging, participating or attending COP26 and associated events
  • Ideas, desires and areas of interest for COP26
  • Opportunities to engage, how CES can represent members and how members can get involved

23 March 2021 4pm: We hope to see you there and encourage you to come along if you are interested in taking part in, or learning more about, COP26.

To come along to the call, please click here to register your interest. If you’re not yet a CES member, it’s not too late to join!

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