Earlier this year, Community Energy England produced the UK’s very first ‘State of the Sector‘ report, highlighting the emerging influence and importance of community owned energy in 2017.

The community energy movement has witnessed tremendous growth over recent years, now boasting 222 organisations throughout the country, which can collectively generate 121MW of clean renewable energy. That’s enough to power 85,500 homes, and has reduced carbon emissions by 110,000 tonnes since 2002.

community owned energy england

The emergence of this new type of energy ownership and generation is in keeping with a wider transformation of our energy supply.

We are in the midst of a seismic shift in the way we use and consume energy. Developments like electric cars, smart grids, battery storage and demand response will make a huge difference to our relationship with energy by making it more local.  Community groups are perfectly positioned to be at the vanguard of this revolution.

Their drive, commitment and local insight provide an ability to put into practice emerging market developments, while the trust associated with being community owned can be vital for encouraging the uptake of new technologies such as smart meters.

Members of Community Energy South (Members of Community Energy South)

In an era of increasing devolution, it is fundamental for communities to invest in initiatives that will improve resilience. As well as generating energy independently (and reducing transmission loss), community energy creates local jobs and keeps money in the local economy. A 2014 government strategy paper on the subject observed that:

“Putting communities in control of the energy they use can have wider benefits such as building stronger communities, creating local jobs, improving health and supporting local economic growth.”

The age when coal and nuclear power dominated the supply market is over.  The gigantic power stations and reactors required to generate huge power outputs that travel for thousands of miles through the wires of the National Grid will soon be history . With access to affordable generation technologies like offshore wind and solar power, coupled with battery storage, heat pumps and a more effficient use of energy, we, as communities, are truly able for the first time to seize control of our energy future.

In countries like Germany, 35% of all renewable energy installations are community owned.  Our future, here in the UK is also community owned.  

Let’s work together to make this happen.

 

On Friday 30th June, BHESCo and Community Energy South jointly hosted an event at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes to introduce ‘RetrofitWorks‘, an innovative online community for generating business in the retrofit industry.

‘Retro-fitting’ means transforming our old, draughty homes to places which are more comfortable to live in, while being less expensive to run.

Over fifty attendees from across the construction sector came along to hear about the scheme and what it can offer.

Adam Bryan, Managing Director, South East Local Enterprise Partnership, spoke first, contextualising RetrofitWorks and the importance of industry co-operation in stimulating growth in the low-carbon sector.

Russell Smith (above right, founder of retro-fit specialists Parity Projects and RetrofitWorks) brought the audience up to date with the platform´s progress and the business it has generated so far.

He explained the benefits of joining the co-operative, which include:

    • Using the online Job Portal to easily identify and bid for work in the local area, receiving a percentage of any profit-share.

 

    • Using in-house training schemes to add certifications and lever procurement power for bulk buying discounts.

 

    • Growing business by generating new customers using low cost acquisition methods.

 

After a well-received buffet-lunch, attendees participated in workshops identifying the challenges and barriers to retro-fitting, and how to best engage potential clients.

Discussion was lively and productive, especially around public and private landlords, both seen as crucial to unlocking the potential of the industry.

At the end of the day we caught up with some attendees to get their feedback. Alex Hunt of Bright Green Homes told us:

“I´m a big fan of RetrofitWorks – it´s about time people worked together getting this agenda forward, and this is the start of something beautiful!”

While Donal Brown, Director of Sustainable Design Collective, said:

“Great day with a lot of solutions-based clarity. Not just well intentioned, the event delivered on professionalism.”

Zoe Osmond of the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform spoke of her hope to further the work already begun:

“Fantastic event to introduce this well-developed and visionary tool. I´m enthused and excited by the opportunity to contribute to RetrofitWorks’ supplier network. Our capacity for R&D, innovation, and data-analytics involving academics and students can contribute to and progress the research base.”

For more information on RetrofitWorks and how to join: http://retrofitworks.co.uk/

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Our hustings event, modelled on the BBC 1 show ‘Question Time’ is a fantastic opportunity to ask your local Brighton Pavilion candidates all those pressing questions concerning climate change and with the aim of teasing out their different approaches.Panel members include Green Party candidate Caroline Lucas, Labour candidate Purna Sen, Conservative Party candidate Clarence Mitchell, Lib Dem candidate Chris Bowers and UKIP candidate Nigel Carter. In the chair: Simon Maxwell.

Everyone will get an opportunity for their question to be asked, questions will be submitted before the event.

Through this event, we aim to:

– Encourage young people/first time voters to engage
– Gain a better understanding of the local candidates stance on environmental issues
– Encourage lively debate and awareness of the issues
– Give you an opportunity to question your potential MP’s
The event is sponsored by Community Energy South – a new umbrella group for local community energy groups across Sussex and surrounding counties.

Ticket Prices : £5 and concession £3

Doors and bar open: 7.00pm
Deadline for submitting questions: 7.30pm

Debate starts: 8.00pm (prompt – please be in your seats!)

 

Picture2The next Power to the People talk is being held on Tuesday 30 September, 19.30-21.00 at the Brighthelm Centre. 

Howard Johns, solar energy pioneer, will be the keynote speaker sharing insights from his forthcoming book on community energy: “Energy Revolution: Your Guide to Making it Happen”.

Howard in considered to be one of the UK’s top renewable energy gurus and is Managing Director of Southern Solar, former Chairman of the Solar Trade Association, and co-founder of OVESCO, the first community owned solar PV schemes in the country, sited on the roof of Harvey’s Brewery.

This is the third in this series of talks organised by Community Energy South, an umbrella group of organisations who have come together to promote community energy projects in the South of England. For more information, see: http://communityenergysouth.org.uk/.
The talk is hosted by the Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD (just 5 minutes from Brighton Station). Informal networking (with drinks and delicious snacks) begins at 19.00. The talk runs from 19.30-21.00, with time for further networking afterwards.  It will be a great opportunity to meet community energy enthusiasts and experts from across the South.
Tickets cost £5 on the door (£3 concessions). To reserve your place, fill in the online form at:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8N28QLM
Linklater pavilion

Linklater Pavilion, Lewes

Kayla Ente, BHESCo Founder and Director will be speaking at one of the Community Energy South discussions on Friday 19 September from 12 noon at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes.

To view the agenda for the event click here.

Kayla will be discussing the topic of community fuel tariffs and the benefits of these in the region.

This event has been organised to showcase local community energy initiatives, encouraging new groups to take up community energy, scaling up our low carbon future and making local green growth jobs.

This free event is part of a series of events focussed on providing information for community groups, parishes, local authorities, individuals and businesses who want to know more about developing a low carbon, energy efficient community and learn from communities who are doing just that. Existing groups will showcase the growth of community energy and debate the future growth of the industry in our region.

These half day conferences will provide opportunities to meet local energy champions. Lunch will be provided. To confirm your attendance, please register here.


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