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Energy: Cooperatives

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN HL2638, tabled on 27 October 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution made by co-operatives to the energy sector.

Answered on

2 November 2017

Co-operatives, ranging from small businesses to nationally recognised names such as John Lewis, play a valuable role in the UK with nearly 7,000 independent co-operatives contributing more than £36 billion to the British economy. Employing 226,000 people, the co-operative sector employs 0.7% of the UK’s workforce, making it a significant player in the economy. Co-operative UK published a report in 2017 which recorded 249 co-operatives engaged in the energy and environment sector, with a turnover of £12.7m.

The Government funded the Community Shares programme over 2012- 2018 enabling growth of the market and seeing over £120m raised by communities to buy-out and run local enterprises which included the development of new community energy schemes.

Co-operatives continue to play an important role in local and community energy projects, in particular. This Government is committed to empowering communities and these projects, which put local people in the driving seat, are an important part of a clean, secure and affordable energy system.

With regards to renewable electricity, the Department provides quarterly updates on the number, and capacity, of installations within the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme registered as communities and schools, and co-operatives are one of the eligible legal entities to apply for this. These reports are available via the following link; however we do not hold installation level data for actual or projected generation for co-operatives: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-and-school-feed-in-tariff-statistics.

The Government has not conducted a formal assessment of the contribution co-operatives have made to the wider energy sector; however we recognise that they and other community ownership models play an important role in reducing, managing, purchasing, and generating energy in the UK (for example, the Carbon Co-op).