Where would you prefer your energy to come from? Your own rooftops, local farmers and businesses, or Russia and Qatar? This was the provocative question posed by Stephen Frankel, Chair of the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network at this year’s Ashden Conference.
I am a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, and look forward every year to that sense of unshakeable optimism that oozes from the audience at the Awards.
As far as I’m concerned, the answer to Stephen Frankel’s question is unequivocal — and this is why I am such an ardent supporter of the work of the Community Energy Coalition. This group of influential and trusted civil society organisations (such as The Co-operative, the National Trust and Ashden itself) works together tirelessly to present a united front to Government, highlighting the far-reaching benefits of community energy.
Through their experience on the ground, they can also testify to the current difficulties that groups face when trying to make community energy a reality in their area. They share a vision for community energy at scale in the UK by 2020, which they are working hard to implement.
Part of this implementation is about engaging and inspiring the wider public about the benefits of this form of energy ownership. To this end, the summer of 2013 sees the first ever Community Energy Fortnight, running from 24th August–8 September.
The Fortnight features events right across the UK, from a walking tour of hydro schemes in Snowdonia, to an energy-saving workshop in Bridport, Dorset; from a rural community energy masterclass at Hockerton Housing Project in Nottinghamshire, to a tour of Neilston community wind farm in Scotland.
At a time when people are feeling increasingly disconnected from the source of their energy supply, it’s time to take it back into our own hands. So let’s get together. Let’s generate an energy revolution.
To find out more about the Community Energy Coalition and the Fortnight, visit ukcec.org.uk
Jonathon Porritt’s new book ‘The World We Made’ will be published in October 2013