It appears that #GreenGB week could not have come at a more apt time following the recent release of the IPCC’s latest report on climate change which gave us the stark warning that we have 12 years to turn things around if we are going to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. Although I find it somewhat ironic that Green Great Britain week is an initiative organised by the UK government who according to the UKs Climate Change Committee are failing to meet our carbon emissions reductions in just about every area. Maybe this is their moment to show some real leadership on the issue, but I fear that this could just be another exercise in Greenwash where they hope to side track us so we don’t notice their failure or unwillingness to tackle these challenging issues.
Just as it looked as if the Community Energy Sector in Wales was ready to flourish and blossom after the hard work of a few determined, courageous and single minded pioneers epitomised by our own Dan McCallum (who was rewarded for his efforts with an MBE). Following a change in government support for projects such as the Feed in Tariff (FIT) and Social Enterprise Tax relief gradually slipped away, resulting in more and more projects which are now left with no route to market. The Energy Saving Trust indicate that in Wales alone there are 46 MW of community projects and 14MW of local authority projects that currently have no route to market (and the development of which is largely on hold). There is a possibility that FITs and export tariffs will be removed altogether next year so this situation is set to become even worse.
However, this is not the time to be glum. Let’s take the time to reflect on what we’ve collectively achieved since the Community Energy sector movement began. It is incredible what committed groups of volunteers have been able to achieve in the last 10 years or so and we should justifiably look back with pride.
Since 2010, following the introduction of the Feed in Tariffs (FITs), the community energy sector across Great Britain and Northern Ireland has grown rapidly. In total groups:
- Developed small-scale renewable generating capacity in excess of 250 MW.
- Provide enough electricity for over 70,000 homes
- Involved the input of over 48,000 members and 1,800 volunteers
- Raised over £200m of investment into projects.
- Are leading on innovation; in Wales we are piloting Energy Local, developing projects around EV Charging, smart solutions, storage, hydrogen and many more.
So let’s take the chance to extend an hand to government and other organisations and say we know that challenges like climate change are hard, and we know that the transition to a renewable energy solution is difficult, but we are prepared to help and provide our time, our commitment,and raise £100’s of millions through alternative sources of finance to support you to make this happen.
So at the start of #GreenGB week, this should be our message to our MPs, AMs and other elected members:
We will help you create vibrant, sustainable communities. We are willing to put the hard work in and do things differently to be successful. We will work with you to create a carbon neutral future with thriving communities. But in return for this effort we need you to meet us halfway to be successful and deliver the change we need to see here in Great Britain.