This section provides information about some of the options available to communities to take control of their energy use and manage their energy needs. The section is organised according to the ‘Energy Hierarchy’ and includes information on approaches to reducing demand, energy efficiency and community renewables. The Energy Hierarchy is described further below.
The Energy Hierarchy
Energy Systems require investment to develop and change. This includes time, money and other resources. It makes sense to focus on the least costly and easiest to achieve options first. The energy hierarchy uses this simple principle to prioritise action so that sustainable energy systems can be delivered in the most efficient way.
Reducing demand for energy by removing waste is the cheapest and easiest change to achieve and so should be considered before other measures. Similarly energy efficiency improvements are generally less expensive and easier to deliver than renewable energy technologies. By reducing demand first and then improving energy efficiency, the impact of renewables is also increased because the same renewable capacity will now replace a greater proportion of fossil fuel generation.
Reducing demand by avoiding waste means avoiding the use of heating, lighting and other energy systems when they are not needed. This can be achieved with behaviour change and through the use of technology.
Improving the efficiency with which energy services are delivered means improving the efficiency of heating, lighting and other energy-consuming processes. Common technologies include insulation to reduce the energy use in space heating and low-energy lighting systems.
Replacing centralised fossil-fuelled systems with local renewables means deploying technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps to harness natural resources like wind and solar energy. Local renewables avoid transmission losses as well as replacing fossil fuels in generation.