Today, the Department of Energy and Climate Change of the Coalition Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government of the United Kingom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland made two announcements. The first was to tell us that over a 1,000 jobs would be created in the construction of two new centralised power plants by very large energy companies, who will almost certainly receive generous state financial support.
The second was to tell us that the full feed-in-tariff for home solar power installations would be pulled early, effectively meaning that 1,000s of jobs will be lost in the small-scale energy companies.
The very generous full-rate Feed in Tariff that was expected to be granted until April 2012 persuaded many individuals and communities to borrow money to purchase solar power installations. People have been waiting for months for their systems, as demand has been so high. With the rug pulled from under this deal, many people and local power groups will now be out of pocket. Worse still, they could also lose deposits, if their installers become insolvent because high numbers of customers demand their money back. Greg Barker MP, of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, borrowing extensively from Gordon Brown, wrote in The Guardian newspaper that he wanted to see the end of boom and bust in the solar power installation sector. Obviously, he prefers just to see the bust part.
Well, me too, I’m going to make an announcment today. It is clear from today’s British energy policy news that the Government favours big business over small enterprise. All the little people, the individuals with little spending power, and powerless opinions, do we ever have the chance to really change the spending decisions on energy in this country ?
Here is my proposal. Don’t send me your money. But do send me your pledges. If you have £50, £500, £5,000 or £50,000 that you want to spend on small-scale renewable power investment, tell me. Save the money in an ethical bank, and send me an e-mail telling me you pledge to spend this money on community or local renewable energy installation. I will keep an online list updated with the sum total of potential investment money to be dedicated to small renewable energy projects. And when the figure reaches a potent amount, for example £500,000 or £5,000,000, I will gather a team to begin a dialogue with other investors, engineering firms, energy firms, financial institutions and the Government demanding appropriate structures for directing that money most efficiently into distributed renewable energy.
Community groups need to have control of their bills, and generating electricity for themselves is a way forward. Transition Town energy projects want to make power at home rather than buy it from abroad. Householders want to support the national move towards renewable energy, so that we don’t need to have our taxes raised to pay for new costly nuclear power plants, or expensive Carbon Capture and Storage. Local power works for everyone, even the big energy companies. Large power companies prefer local grid generation as it prevents them having to load the main grids by running increasing costly fossil fuel plant on standby, and it makes it easier to load balance regional grids by having a number of local generators.
Distributed power generation, on peoples’ roofs, on the tops of schools, hospitals and Town Halls, this is how to protect the UK from the rising costs of importing progressively more fossil fuels. Distributed power generation can be efficient, and very low carbon, and be a personal and community response to the risks of climate change. Small scale local power can create a million good quality jobs.
Don’t wait for the Government’s Green Investment Bank. I predict it will be underfunded and less-than-optimal. Let’s save money with ourselves, the distributed way.
Here’s the first personal pledge :-
Jo Abbess : My personal pledge to distributed UK renewable electricity generation is £5,000. I am holding this money in an ethical account until an appropriate cooperative project is agreed by the Distributed Renewable Energy Bank.