solar panels on brown field under white clouds during daytime
Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

For too long, we’ve relied on energy produced and owned abroad – empowering oligarchs and despots, while multinational oil and gas companies make record profits.

With international events pushing oil and gas prices to record highs, there has never been a more important moment to invest in cheap, clean renewable energy produced and owned right here in the UK.

At the Co-operative Party, we know that ownership matters. And that’s why we back community-owned energy, where local people own and control renewables like solar panels and wind farms that power their communities. Yet the Conservatives are ignoring the potential of community-owned energy and cutting its funding in favour of more fossil fuels and more overseas ownership

Touring the world for further supplies of fossil fuels isn’t going to bring us energy security – it’s locking us into dependency on the very thing driving conflict and fuelling the climate emergency.

Some have cynically used the current crisis to call for an expansion of North Sea oil and gas. But UK communities don’t ‘own’ these fields – license-holding oil and gas companies do. The same companies who brought in record-profits last year, and who would look to sell oil and gas to the highest bidder wherever they were.

To free ourselves from dependency on expensive and dangerous fossil fuels, we need to rapidly expand a cleaner, cheaper renewable energy system right here at home – owned and run by the people who depend on it.

Renewable energy is the future, and getting cheaper by the year. But if we do not diversify ownership, then we’re at risk of recreating the present – where a small handful of companies own our energy production while hoarding record profits.

There is a better way. Community-owned renewable energy is already making a difference – from rooftop solar projects in Brixton to tidal power projects in South Wales. But to help community-owned energy meet the scale of our energy needs, we need to invest and help unleash its potential. We need to:

  1. Fund this vital sector by heeding calls for a new National Community Energy Fund, to provide crucial funding for urban, rural, heat and retrofit community energy schemes in England
  2. Secure our future by creating a new National Community Energy Strategy, co-produced by the UK and devolved governments, including practical support for the sector
  3. Expand our ambition by setting new targets for community-owned renewable energy production
  4. Increase accountability by creating new Community Energy Units with increased powers in each of the UK and devolved governments
  5. Level the playing-field between community-owned energy and privately-owned giants, by removing barriers to producers selling their energy locally and allowing councils to prioritise community-owned projects in procurement and planning

Back our plan now, and help us build a cheaper, greener, fairer energy system.