Community is a much used word that is readily attached to projects, initiatives and policies as part of the discursive politics of modern governance. In this viewpoint, we consider the way in which community has become attached to renewable energy projects in the UK, both in grassroot action and in mainstream energy policy. We ask what those involved have seen as distinctive about community renewable energy projects that makes them different from other renewable energy installations. We identify a diversity of understandings and interpretations that revolve around questions of both process (who the project is by) and outcome (who the project is for). We evaluate the implications of this diversity, identifying the importance of the process of project development for realising the catalytic and learning effects of meaningful and substantial local involvement.