Starting a Project
If you are looking at this website hopefully you are thinking about starting a community energy project. This toolkit is intended to help you develop your project into an effective mechanism for delivering your local energy goals.
At the start of any project it is important to be clear about what you want to achieve and why. This will make it easier to determine how to make it happen. Some questions to consider are “why do we want to deliver an energy project?”, “why are we starting the project at this particular time?” and “why is a community group the best way to achieve our aims?” Consult and seek consensus.
Getting Others to Help
Whatever your ambitions, a group of people can achieve a lot more than a single individual. It’s worth thinking about who might be interested in getting involved with your project and why. How can you sell your idea to different groups? What tasks are there and who can do them? Engaging a variety of people initially will strengthen the capacity of the organisation and make it easier to connect with the wider community. Identifying clear roles for people will give them purpose and ownership and encourage them to continue participating in the project.
Having a Plan
Once you’ve worked out what you want to do it’s time to start planning how to go about it. Successful projects usually have some important characteristics including:
- clearly defined and achievable objectives
- an organisational structural to manage the delivery process
- a realistic plan to achieve the proposed objectives
- resources to deliver the desired outcomes
Project Management is a well developed discipline and there are lots of resources to draw on. Starting to think like a project manager will help to bring form and focus to your community project.
Getting Support from your Community
Just as a willing and able group will help to get the project moving in the first place, genuine community support will make all the difference as you seek to turn your plans from paper into real change. Once engaged your community can provide resources, funds and a powerful voice to overcome hurdles such as achieving planning approval. Your community will no doubt include a diverse mixture of households and individuals who may or may not share your outlook and values. If you want their support you will need to present your ideas in terms that will capture their interest and unite them with your cause. It may take time but having their support will make a lot of difference in the long-run.
Expectations and Reality
Whatever the original inspiration for your community energy project, the experience of establishing and delivering a Community Energy Project may be more time-consuming and less glamorous than you had hoped. It will take a lot of persistence, and success will depend on having realistic goals and expectations from the outset.
Many community groups rely on small numbers of committed individuals to keep things moving. Once your core group starts to emerge its worth thinking about what you can realistically achieve with the resources available.
There is nothing like success to spur you on and win new recruits. Starting with something small can help to achieve success quickly, providing valuable experience to build your skills and a platform from which to launch more ambitious proposals. Early success will help to build credibility within your the community and with potential project partners.