In the News some time ago, Paul Gosling said that reducing energy consumption in order to cut carbon emissions – thereby mitigating climate change – is one of the major political, social and economic challenges of our age.
Though the business model to improve energy conservation needs to be redesigned, the system for generating renewable energy through community co-operatives is showing enormous promise.
Gosling sees lower-cost, renewable energy sources as the focus for commercial interventions in the energy market in the UK.
An excitingly large movement of community benefit societies and co-operatives are making community shares issues for renewable energy projects. Paul gives information from the Community Shares Marketplace, www.shares.coop, where 52 community share issues are currently on offer.
Of those 52, almost a third – 15 – are energy projects, ranging from wind turbines, to hydro, to solar panel installations.
Last year, former MP Alan Simpson, adviser to Friends of the Earth, submitted written evidence to the Energy and Climate Change debate. A few points made:
Elsewhere in Europe, countries have applied the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive to guarantee priority grid access to renewables. As such, the entirety of balancing responsibilities become the responsibility of non-renewable energy sources. The UK should do the same.
Simpson advised government to reflect on these ‘useful points of reflection’:
- In February this year, Benchmark (year-ahead) wholesale power prices were “51 percent higher in Britain than Germany. German baseload 2014 prices were 42.5 euros ($56.8) per megawatt hour … and British equivalent prices 55.65 pounds ($85.9)”. (Reuters, 20 Feb 2013).
- German wholesale electricity prices have dropped by over 20% in the four years to 2012.
- In less than three years, the German “Energy Transformation” programme has turned an energy market with only four main power suppliers, into one with almost two million suppliers today. An increasing proportion of these are in the burgeoning (600+) community-energy/co-operative sector.
His parliamentary legacy: the Feed-in-Tariff amendments he introduced to the Energy Act 2008 with cross-party support, and the ‘raft’ of fuel poverty measures secured by the Parliamentary Warm Homes Group that he chaired for 15 years