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September 11, 2013

Community energy at a glance

Despite the somewhat gloomy policy and financial climate surrounding community renewables (see intro), there’s still much to play for. And if communities are going to maximise those opportunities that still do exist, then having good quality reliable data is going to be vital. The recent launch of Scene Connect which is described as the UK’s most comprehensive Community Energy Knowledge Exchange Database has to be welcomed. It’s clever and very user friendly.


The UK’s Most Comprehensive Community Energy Knowledge Exchange Database – click here

Building the Scene Connect Database

Since January 2012 we have been working hard to collect data, with your help, on well over 700 community projects across the UK. Through telephone, internet and face-to-face interviews we have spoken to a member of each community in our database. This work has resulted in the most complete dataset on community renewables ever created, and we thank you for selflessly taking part in this project. 

This effort has formed the core of our project Scene Connect, which is a project map and knowledge exchange platform with lots of project guidance and advice. What is different about Scene Connect is that is user driven, meaning that our administrators and hundreds of willing community energy practitioners will keep the website updated over time. We have already started gathering similar data for community projects in The Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Canada and South Africa, which will bring interesting perspectives and findings to the project.

What we found while doing this work was that community energy practitioners know how important it is to learn from others, but often beneficial level of inter-communication are difficult to achieve. Scene Connect aims to offer a space for individuals and groups to see what others have done, and to let the world know how you are getting on, all through a simple web platform. With your help we hope that Scene Connect will help to ease the issues of lack of access to information and understanding of best practices, resulting in informed choices for by community groups.

The website has been live for the past few months, undergoing testing, but is now ready for public use. Scene Connect is the first of its kind, allowing registered communities access to data on other projects, including aspects such as the legal status, organisational characteristics, business models, technologies, and council policies, project stage and funding sources. The availability of this information will fill some of the communication and information gaps that currently constrain the community renewables sector. 

We want Scene Connect to be useful to community groups as soon as possible. Therefore we have set up user accounts for all of you who have filled in the survey and indicated that you think this is a useful project. Your login details will be sent to you in a separate email and you will be able to log in to the website here. Once logged in to the website, you will be able to update your own project (as our information may be outdated), and have access to details on hundreds of other community projects. We believe that there is a lot to be learned from one another and hope that Scene Connect provides a platform that leads to less reinvention of the wheel and lots of healthy collaboration.