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Community energy systems

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'Community energy' in broad terms refers to electricity and/or heat production on a small, local scale that may be governed by or for local people or otherwise capable of providing them with direct beneficial outcomes. In practice it encompasses a wide variety of technologies, organisational arrangements, and potential outcomes, with these outcomes including collective economic returns, reduced fuel poverty, carbon mitigation, greater community cohesion, and an increased knowledge of sustainable energy technologies. However, there are a number of challenging practical and regulatory barriers that can stand in the way of the further development of such systems. Recent experience is considered in this article largely in the context of the United Kingdom and other European countries. © 2012