Centralised energy projects are large by nature. They require large capital, meaning that they can usually be developed only by large utilities or corporations. And of course they come with large ongoing costs, which are borne by their customers.
A community energy system, on the other hand, supplies local energy requirements from locally situated RE or high-efficiency co-generation, connected to consumers by infrastructure which enhances or replaces the traditional power grid.
It produces what's required by local demand (scaling), obviating built-in redundancy, and reducing transmission losses and their attendant costs.
A typical community energy system is characterised by
- reduced transmission losses and charges
- increased robustness and reliability of the centralised system (if connected)
- local people having a financial stake (with or without a commercial goal)
- community involvement in the development process
- delivering significant community benefits
- reducing carbon emissions
- financial benefits staying in the community
- appropriate scaling.
Small is beautiful
A community energy project offers people the chance to make a significant, collective contribution to creating their own energy future – far more than that achieved by installing CFCs, appliance conversion, using public transport, improving home insulation or other energy-saving measures.
It also provides an opportunity to do something that governments aren't doing enough of – creating real changes at a community level. And, perhaps best of all, it allows communities to get off the fossil-fuel roundabout.
If windfarms and other forms of RE are to meet the federal government's renewable energy targets (20% by 2020) local communities have to get involved and reap the benefits.
For more info: www.embark.com.au