This report summarises the findings of the ‘Capturing the value of community energy’ business collaboration project. Completed between September 2020 and January 2021, a team of researchers from University of Bristol (Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Colin Nolden and PhD Researchers Daniela Rossade and Peter Thomas) analysed company data stretching back to 2015 from Energise Sussex Coast (ESC) and South East London Community Energy (SELCE), two non-profit social enterprises that seek to act co-operatively to tackle fuel poverty and the climate crisis. Both have won multiple awards for their work which includes community owned renewable energy schemes and tackling fuel poverty, which involves reaching out to vulnerable members of their communities to help them understand their energy bills, switch suppliers and reduce their energy demand. This business collaboration involved the analysis of their fuel poverty alleviation data to gain a better understanding of what fuel poverty advice and energy saving action works and what does not. We pursued a three-pronged approach to the data analysis. Firstly, we tried to establish comparability among the quantitative datasets to compare their approach, outreach and success in tackling fuel poverty. Secondly, we calculated the Social Return on Investment (SROI) using one specific dataset from 2018/19. Thirdly, we analysed the qualitative data to gain a deeper understanding of links between organisational approaches, fuel poverty alleviation interventions, data capture and management, and the funding environment. Due to complicated and highly variable reporting procedures it was only possible to establish comparable datasets on a few metrics which reflect requirements set by funders. The SROI calculation revealed that community fuel poverty alleviation efforts undertaken by companies such as SELCE and ESC has a SROI of 9-10:1 for every £1 invested. The qualitative analysis revealed the systematic underreporting of such value as funders’ targets are narrowly defined around numbers rather than genuinely lifting people out of fuel poverty. This report concludes with some recommendations to improve the operational environment for community fuel poverty alleviation services, especially given their invaluable efforts in reaching out to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021

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