#CommunityEnergy

#TakingBackOurPower

Our societies’ energy requirements which some may identify as more of an addiction is a major global problem. There is no better example of how local solutions can not only reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels and those who profit from their extraction but also build the foundations of more sustainable, efficient and resilient communities. Our efforts to achieve this will have to be monumental. And like with addiction it will take an intervention by those citizens committed to helping future generations meet their basic needs in an uncertain and increasingly foreboding future.

I have been very interested in the research for this community energy category of BFB because I think it is such a great example of local solutions to global problems.

I like the term localism but don’t wish to be confused with the below:

Hmmmmmmm! Not sure I can remember the Act of Parliament that took that power away from us in the first place!

We have all the expertise and access to funding we need within our own communities to make a Transition away from our dependence upon fossil fuels and the people who produce them. We need to work towards a future of energy independence with renewables the financial benefits of which remaining in and strengthening local economies. The very process itself will create local jobs, ongoing investment opportunities for third sector organisations and other members of the community.

I can’t wait to share stories of the truly amazing people, organisations and projects involved in the sector, hopefully, inspiring people to join in or get together with others in their communities and start their own projects.

The screenshot map above of the Earth at night is a great way to find out where not to start up a stargazing club. It also illustrates nicely for me how wasteful we are with power considering its true cost and how much we take it for granted. But why not. It’s only electricity! It’s not like it’s going to cost the Earth or anything.

Recent incredulous hikes in prices, government handouts that don’t come anywhere near matching fossil fuel subsidies and new all-time record profits for shareholders. Any rational observer would surmise that profiteers are trying to cash in while they still can, regardless of the contribution to climate change. By actively blocking investment in renewables and spending millions lobbying governments in restricting alternative sources of power from anyone than them. The enormous profits from fossil power almost entirely leave the local economy.👋👋👋£££££££

#PowerToThePeople

What is community energy according to 👑GOV.UK:

I must confess to being a little confused by the government’s website and their section on Community Energy as most of the information dates back to 2013??????? Things must have moved on a bit from then, chaps! Considering the Urgency of our need to Transition to a renewable source of power reinforced by historic failed agreements and international commitments from the Paris Appeasement to Flop 26. If I was at all the sceptical type I would suggest that the Government doesn’t much care about community energy. I wonder why?

Even their list explaining updates seems to be upside down:

  1. 26 January 2015 Announcement of Community Energy Competition.

  2. 23 December 2014 Community energy support and advice resource update.

  3. 27 January 2014 And updated guide following the publication of the Community Energy Strategy.

  4. 28 June 2013 Details of the new £15m fund for community rural energy renewable projects.

  5. 6 June 2013 Updated with information about the Call for evidence launched on 6 June 2013.

  6. 25 March 2013 First published. 26 January 2015 Announcement of Community Energy Competition.

  7. 23 December 2014 Community energy support and advice resource update.

  8. 27 January 2014 And updated guide following the publication of the Community Energy Strategy.

  9. 28 June 2013 Details of the new £15m fund for community rural energy renewable projects.

  10. 6 June 2013 Updated with information about the Call for evidence launched on 6 June 2013.

  11. 25 March 2013 First published.

Showing great political enthusiasm 👑GOV.UK followed up their first ever UK Community Energy Strategy in 2014 just 12 months later with an exciting 2015 update:

✌🏻We have listened and we have acted ✌🏿 😂🤣😂🤣😂 Who writes this nonsense❓

The nation waited with bated breath for the 2016 update I am sure. However nothing has materialised for 2016 or 2017 2018………. 2022. It’s summertime 2023 and nothing so far this year. As soon as an update to the UK’s first and only Community Energy Strategy is produced we will, of course, share it widely with our Boiling Frogs Blog networks.

Sorry 👑GOV.UK but the community has moved on.

#PowerFromThePeople

So back in 2014 when all the promises and fake smiles in selfies from politicians and bureaucrats were fading into obscurity of yet another dissipating news cycle a group of people set about doing something extraordinary. They set up a not-for-profit company called Community Energy Association (England) operating under the name Community Energy England (CEE).

The CEE has an absolutely fantastic website which I highly recommend you read from cover to cover. That’s, of course, if you can do that with websites and if you can manage to spend a couple of hours away from cute and cuddly images.

Who is CEE?

In their own words:

“Community Energy England is the only organisation dedicated to supporting and facilitating community energy organisations and the broader sector in England. We have built an extensive network and connections within the sector and amongst relevant government and other stakeholders. As the voice of the sector, we are uniquely positioned to lobby government and advocate on behalf of community energy organisations and the sector as a whole.”

Above look at all those beautiful projects across the south of England!

Below look how few there are in Essex. Looks like we have got our work cut out getting more projects going in our home county.

Of course, if you have got a project going in Essex or know of any please let us know. One of our objectives with this section is to promote the sector and inspire others so we would love to hear from you.

#TheSunWillComeOutTommorow

And when it does the community can generate its own realistic energy requirements and revenue to boot.

All you need to know is in the 2022 State of the Sector Report ………but one of the things that stood out to me was:

“It is notable that the type of project being developed by newly formed organisations has shifted away from electricity generation in 2021. For the first time in several years, no new organisations reported involvement with an active electricity generation project, opting instead to focus on energy efficiency, low carbon transport and renewable heat initiatives, perhaps reflecting the perceived difficulty of developing community-scale generation.”

We can’t afford to waste time

We must be very cautious and watchful about the funding availability for community needs being tailored buy the funders. In other words things get to move in the direction that the funding bodies want them to move in.

The post-covid recovery of the community energy sector is in my humble opinion absolutely essential for our survival. It is an excellent example of citizens coming together in local communities and taking back the power while raising funds for communities to become more resilient to the challenges to come that so many people across the world are already experiencing.

With stories of record high temperatures in the world’s oceans, heatwaves, devastating storms flooding and millions of acres of forest habitats incinerated by forest fires🔥. It’s obvious that the world is burning and being overrun by climate changes. Habitat destruction and mass extinctions are rising on a daily basis. If you were thinking of responding yourself to the climate and ecological catastrophe that is unfolding in front of you maybe now would be a good time. Just saying!

The business as usual approach from all aspects of the community has to be challenged. We don’t want to upset people and ruffle any feathers or to be condemned as tree hugging fanatics in fact the complete opposite. We want to make friends, form cooperatives and promote collaboration. To this end we will be asking the third sector of Essex to join us on VIVE and discuss openly and honestly as the global crisis deserves the possibility of third sector support for community energy projects within Essex. VIVE is a social media platform that Transition Network set up for us to use and coordinate action. I speak more about it in this post.

We cannot afford to waste time waiting for government, private sector or big business to come to our rescue! Why would they?

#TogetherWeCan # BeeTheChange #CommunityEnergy

If starting your own project is a daunting challenge but you still want to get involved in some way then why not help us spread the word about #CommunityEnergy and organisations like CEE. Their dedication to the realisation of a more positive community response to the climate crisis deserves our support and they could do with all the eco cyber warriors they can get.

More to follow 🌎🌍🌎🌍🌎🌍🌎🌍🌎

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