VIDEO: How coal country can spark a clean energy revolution

If you were looking for exciting progress on clean energy, a former mining town in Derbyshire might not be your first port of call. But Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, is home to a community wind turbine built right on top of an old coal mine. 

We paid a visit earlier this year with community energy champ Alan Simpson, who explained how we could give a massive boost to local energy schemes like this by adopting a clever policy they're already using in Germany. Check out the video – it's inspiring stuff!

Think Alan is talking a whole lot of sense here? We do too.

The transcript

They started digging coal and iron ore here at Duckmanton about 200 years ago. It put the village at the heart of an energy revolution that was to become Britain's industrial revolution.

And it seems only right that a village that was at the forefront of the last energy revolution should also be part of launching us into the next.

And that's just what's happening here. Set up and supported by Energy4All, Four Winds energy co-op has raised £3.7m to pay for the turbine being installed here today, and a second turbine at Shafton near Barnsley.

This turbine was not funded by banks, but by 800 ordinary people.

This turbine was not funded by banks, but by 800 ordinary people. And when it's erected, it will generate over 1,100 megawatt hours of electricity a year. That's enough to keep the lights on in two thirds of the homes in Duckmanton itself.

Once this is up and running, the electricity that it generates will go straight into the national grid. And the cash that comes back to the co-op in return will allow it to put about £10,000 a year into Duckmanton for community projects. And for those who've saved in the turbine, they'll get their money back twice over in 20 years, and at interest rates better than any ISA that's on the market at the moment.

Duckmanton is taking its place amongst the burgoening number of energy co-ops running wind, solar and hydro projects that between them will transform the face of Britain's energy future.

Now if Duckmanton were in Germany, villagers here would also have a right to the first use of the electricity they generate, selling it back to themselves at prices well below what you'd pay from the national grid. But because the energy market rules were written by and for Big Energy, this remains illegal in Britain. Communities here are not allowed to meet their own energy needs first.

When coal was king, those who produced Britain's energy got their share of it for free, and we could do the same again.

Giving people in Duckmanton the same rights as they've got, say, in Dusseldorf, wouldn't be that difficult. In the days when coal was king, the miners here received free coal as part of the deal. Coal lorries would be running up and down these streets, delivering free coal to the miners' families. Those who produced the nation's energy got their share of it for free, and we could do the same again.

The cabling that connects the village is already in place. Free, or cheap electricity could run direct from the turbine to the table lamp. All we need are the same rights in Duckmanton as other communities like these have in other parts of Europe.

Tomorrow's energy revolution begins with us. All across Europe, community energy is starting to turn energy thinking upside down, creating new markets that are smarter, brighter, quicker and more democratic than anything that we have today.

Tomorrow's energy security will be found blowing in the wind, shining in the sky and rolling with the tides. So thanks Duckmanton for showing us that together, we can be as much a part of the next energy revolution as we were of the last.

Cover image released under Creative Commons