Our evidence suggests that volunteer-run community groups can make important contributions to cutting carbon through energy projects. But there are limits to these groups' capacity and they need to be supported by and work in partnership with private and public sector actors.

Green Streets is a unique challenge, run by British Gas, that is generating important lessons about the role community projects can play in cutting carbon emissions, and about the opportunities and challenges involved in creating the 'Big Society'.

Acting in an independent capacity, ippr is conducting a range of quantitative and qualitative research, to generate lessons from Green Streets about the potential of community energy projects, the barriers to these projects, and the solutions needed to overcome these barriers.

At the interim stage our evidence suggests that there are major opportunities to be had from community groups installing renewable technologies, both for the finances of the community groups and for the wider impacts these technologies could have on public attitudes to energy use.

But we have also found that there are big barriers to community groups taking up these technologies, such as capital and financial, technical and organisational expertise, as well as the time to pull a project together. To grow the number of these projects community groups will need to work in partnership with a range of different actors, such as support providers, local authorities and technical delivery partners, and it is vital that central Government plays an enabling role by the remaining committed to the financial subsidies that exist for renewable technologies.

Interim report of the Green Streets project, prepared by ippr for British Gas. The final report will be published around March 2011.