News just in. Up and down the country, community energy projects are taking off. And, they’re even being successful. In my last two missives, I tried to give you a brief understanding of the history of community energy and looked at the positives and what turned out to be a not-so-short list of frustrations. However, despite all the challenges, I have seen that community renewable energy initiatives can work, so in this final series of news flashes, let’s take a look at some shining examples of what be achieved.
Howdy Partner! Back in the old Wild West, they knew a bit about wind power. While wind pumps have been in use as far back as the 9th Century, it was the American engineer, Daniel Hallaway, who invented the self-regulating farm wind pump that became an iconic symbol of the Wild West from 1854 onwards. By 1930, an estimated 600,000 units were in use – with a capacity equivalent to some 150 megawatts. Generally, these were used to pump water on farms, but they could still be viewed as an early form of community energy.
With the theme tune from Star Wars still ringing in their ears,, DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has less to look forward to this year perhaps. It has just had its budget severely squeezed on the orders of Commander Osborne, who, in the government’s latest budget review said that ‘going green should not cost the earth’ (nice pun, Georgie) and blasted DECC’s funding with a 22% cut. ‘DECC Star’ hit by budget cuts. Ha ha - although I imagine not many people are feeling that jovial in DECC right now.
If you’ve never heard of community energy, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s little more than a bunch of ageing hippies in a commune in a remote part of Somerset running a tie-dye t-shirt operation, powered by taking turns on a bicycle attached to a generator.