On 18th May 2011, I attended the EnergyShare launch at River Cottage HQ near Axminster, Devon on behalf of Carbon Co-op. The day saw community renewables projects come together from all over the UK to share experiences, learn lessons and find out more about the EnergyShare project.
The programme featured presentations from Anne Harding of Settle Hydro, Sam Harcus of the Isle of Westray wind project and Tim Lunel of Low Carbon Hook Norton and National Energy Foundation. We also got a tour of River Cottage’s renewable credentials which include an impressive wind turbine, solar panels and a biomass boiler as well as a grey water reed bed system and lots of food growing.
Afternoon sessions included PlanLocal, a guide to renewables planning from Centre for Sustainable Energy which featured a great ‘toy town’ style model complete with electric trams, wind turbines and solar panels – the model had the effect of making you feel like Guliver in an eco-Liliput land!
Also, there was an interesting panel discussion featuring, among others, Dale Sharpe, Senior Policy Advisor on Green Deal Legislation at DECC and Lucy Darch, Head of Energy Solutions at British Gas Community Energy. There were some pretty searching questions from the floor on government policy with regard to cuts in Feed In Tariffs and support of nuclear power.
I wanted to know how DECC and British Gas saw community level organisations being involved in the proposed ‘Green Deal‘ scheme to retrofit existing housing stock. The view from the panel was that grassroots organisations would be involved in energy assessments, delivery of installations and ‘demand creation’. Many of those in attendance made the case that community-driven organisations are essential in delivering an effective Green Deal programme but where the income streams necessary to fund this come from remain to be seen. They could always check out our Community Green Deal report!
Finally there was lots of information on the EnergyShare website. The site has been developed by Keo Films who were involved in developing the River Cottage series and the Landshare website. EnergyShare brings together information on community renewables groups from all over the UK as well as useful information on how to instigate, fund and develop green projects yourself. They’re administering a fund to help resource community projects and Carbon Co-op are bidding for £100,000 from this fund, you can support our bid here.