Community energy groups were sent back to the drawing board when the government cut support for renewables. But not to be beaten, groups have been innovating. This is the story of one group venturing into new territory.
Looking around Easton, Bristol, David Tudgey could see that his neighbours were struggling to pay their energy bills. It was also clear they were totally disenfranchised from playing their part in tackling climate change.
The answer? David formed Easton Community Energy Group in 2009. It’s a grassroots organisation that’s all about making the transition to renewable energy accessible to everyone. Right now, that means installing community-owned solar panels on as many houses as they possibly can.
To do it they’re thinking seriously outside of the box. Or should that be outside the wires...
Most houses in the UK get their electricity from the national grid. The Easton team are setting up a spin off local supply project meaning they will lay their own wires and build a mini grid.
It will connect 60 homes on two streets and supply them all with locally-owned solar power.
Easton Energy Group will sell the power directly - no need for a middleman (like an energy supplier). That means local people pay less on their bills, and the group gets a better price for the electricity it sells.
And it’s a great way for people who wouldn’t be able to afford solar themselves to get in on the action.
EEG have form in this area. They’ve already installed a mini grid that gives Easton Community Centre renewable heat and electricity.
This is an ambitious idea, with plenty of difficulties and risks. So why do it? Dave believes we’re at a tipping point for our energy system in Britain.
“The transition to renewable energy is inevitable. But it’s not inevitable that there’ll be any local ownership... Unless we do something about it”.
So… they are.