page title icon Renewable energy generation

It is important within this workshop to explore the material and political reality of the neighbourhood in relation to renewables (including what is possible based on the neighbourhood’s geography and assets and identifying where there is appetite for or animosity around renewables projects).

This information can be used to build on pre-existing data to identify immediate opportunities and interventions which may require more time and energy engaging the wider community.

“Westwood’s roofs have value. Sooner or later, someone will realise that. What we want to do is get the value now and use it for the good of the community”

Westwood group member

Delivery resources

  • workshop tool: renewable energy generation including an example workshop outline, additional learning resources and good practice case studies
  • example content including example resources used during the delivery of Oldham Energy Futuresread about the renewable energy generation workshops in Westwood and Sholver here.
Exploring Investment Rate of Return for solar data modelling map
Identifying optimal opportunities for community-owned solar


This workshop is about building knowledge of energy generation and the opportunities for energy generation through renewables in the neighbourhood. It can also build awareness of the potential for local ownership of renewables through community and municipal ownership, and the potential for technologies – such as solar – in both generating clean energy and delivering profits which can be driven back into the neighbourhood’s economy.

Who should be there?

  • facilitators
  • the neighbourhood group
  • one workshop leader with expertise in renewable energy generation, for example an organisation which provides support to community energy projects (see below for suggested organisations)
  • nice to have: an expert witness from a community-led project which has developed locally owned renewable energy generation.

Organisations with relevant subject expertise

For suggestions of locally-based practitioners:

Other organisations:

Key questions

  • what is the potential for renewable energy generation in the neighbourhood? 
  • what could this deliver for the local community in terms of a reduction in the cost of bills, additional finance and even local jobs? 
  • which people/businesses/organisations might be interested in renewables?

Participant outcomes

  • an understanding of the changes they could make to their own property to install renewables.

Group outcomes

  • an understanding of the potential for renewables in the neighbourhood
  • an understanding of how the group, or another community-group, could own these solutions
  • an understanding of what community-ownership of a renewables project could mean for the neighbourhood.


Solar is a useful proxy for local energy generation. It is easily understood and its potential can be easily visualised at the neighbourhood level in comparison to other renewable technologies. 

Whilst existing data sets on solar energy generation exist, the Oldham Energy Futures team could not find something that was representative of Oldham’s potential. The team from Oldham Energy Futures commissioned the Centre for Sustainable Energy to model the solar potential of the area and produce a dataset which was visualised to prompt discussion by the group. Doing similar may be useful in other places delivering a CLEP process. This dataset should focus on the elements needed by community groups to demonstrate the potential for income generation using community energy. 

This type of data visualisation can be used to discuss which businesses and building owners might be interested in installing solar on their roofs. Including opportunities for the group to hear from community energy groups which have gone through the process of setting up a community owned renewables project may also be beneficial to build understanding of the potential to own this type of solution themselves. If the group is very interested in renewables, it may be beneficial to deliver this session at a local renewables site or organise a visit following the workshop.

It is important to invite an expert with a community energy background who can help to manage the expectations of the group to ensure any proposals for action are realistic, particularly if the group plans to take them forward.

Oldham Energy Futures example

Oldham Community Power were invited to attend one of the Sholver workshops as part of Oldham Energy Futures to act as expert witnesses in the field of renewable energy. This connection, alongside solar data analysis conducted for the project, prompted the Sholver neighbourhood group to pursue a community action project to work with Oldham Community Power to deliver more renewables in the area. They have since approached the owners of a site identified through the data analysis which has the potential for a large solar installation. 

The group were inspired to do this using their knowledge of the community energy business model and the benefits it can deliver for them and their community – reducing carbon emissions, providing a return on investment for local people and generating finance that could be reinvested into local energy efficiency measures.