Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Power to the People

Today Esther was telling me about an island community in Denmark which generates almost all of it's own electricity, and it made me think about the different approaches of governments to building renewable energy generating capacity.

Here in the UK I've noticed an emphasis on big "top down" schemes. Large scale wind farms that create a backlash from local communities who don't want the "ugly" wind generators on their landscape. The logic is that this is the only way to create the scale of capacity that's needed.

It's an interesting aside that so many landmarks of the industrial revolution (viaducts, canals, railway lines) are now thought of as beautiful national treasures, yet many inspired the same distaste and backlash in their day.

The Danes have a different approach which is to enable and encourage communities to build their own renewable energy generating capacity. This means that people have a sense of ownership over the energy and adopt them rather than resist them. I hate to belie my hippy Luddite leanings, but local is always the best solution.

In the UK we also have a scheme that subsidises individual homes' renewable energy, but this again doesn't have the same impact as a community sharing the scheme. Wind generators and PV arrays have a physical presence which is felt within a community, even if it's on an individuals property, so it makes sense to encourage communal ownership, and share the communal benefits (and costs).

In practice "community groups" that are empowered enough to actually implement a renewable energy scheme are pretty thin on the ground, and I struggle to imagine the residents on our street deciding to club together to put up a wind generator. However, given the right incentives I'm sure it could happen, and if you can create a rollout-able model (like Neighbourhood Watch) then it could be a great way of producing significant renewable energy capacity.

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