Home > Uncategorized > Taking Back the Power: how community energy will be part of the Green Surge of clean energy!

Taking Back the Power: how community energy will be part of the Green Surge of clean energy!

I had the good fortune to meet up with many of my Green Party colleagues yesterday on a tour of a solar farm near Berwick, East Sussex, where over 30,000 solar panels of a commercial operation are delivering clean, green energy into the grid day in and day out, contributing to the clean energy revolution that is sweeping across the world even in the UK despite the best efforts of the Conservative government to destroy, sabotage, eviscerate, disembowel or just plain hang, draw and quarter the entire green energy sector! We were there not just to admire the solar panels but also to show support for the proposed new community solar farm by Cuckmere Community Solar which will be built next door to the commercially owned panels if planning permission is granted in a few weeks time.

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Despite the pouring rain and the gloomy November weather, spirits were high amongst us all because we can see that the future is bright because the future belongs to green energy, especially solar, which is on course to become the world’s main source of electricity by 2050. We are in the dying days of the fossil fuel industry despite the best efforts of Big Oil and Big Gas to big up their future in the face of the inevitable popping of the carbon bubble as 80% of their booked fossil fuel reserves become stranded assets once the world decides at the forthcoming UN climate talks in Paris to send the signal that rapid transition from fossil fuels has to take place in order to keep global warming to within a 2 degrees Centrigrade rise since pre-industrial times. And no amount of cheerleading for a nuclear renaissance despite the eyewateringly high costs and risks of nuclear energy can stop or sow down the green energy revolution.

So whilst squelching through the mud and huddling against the wind in a very autumnal landscape, I rejoiced at seeing the future in a field where I could see sheep munch happily underneath solar panels doubling up as umbrellas and wind breaks, and many of the newly sown wildflowers were still in blossom next to newly planted hedgerows. This is a future – visible here and now – where clean energy both keeps the lights switched on and enhances the countryside and traditional farming practices. It is a future, moreover, where community energy will be a crucial and ever growing part of the clean energy revolution, ensuring that many of the economic benefits of renewable energy flow back into local communities into projects they choose and control rather than into the hands of large financial investors and big corporations.

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So am I being unduly optimistic about the clean energy revolution? I don’t think so, as even the CEO of National Grid says that the UK energy situation will change radically within the next few years as renewable energy becomes ever more important, creating the new baseload that will respond to new demand response and demand management strategies and technologies which put the individual consumer much more in control of their energy use and costs than ever before. This unstoppable trend is what the Green Party understands so well and realise could be the basis of future economic prosperity and well being for us all, especially if social justice measures guarantee that such prosperity is shared out fairly. Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, shows her sure grasp of the new realities of clean energy, and Green Member of the European Parliament, Keith Taylor’s new report on Taking Back the Power: Community Energy in the South East, is full of useful case studies and information that show how community energy groups can ride this clean energy revolution for the benefit of their local communities. I, for one, will be helping my local community energy group, Eastbourne Community Energy, to get stuck in to make smart, clean, green, affordable energy  become part of the local landscape, quite literally!

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