New PCS pamphlet Just Transition and Energy Democracy: a civil service trade union perspective. We urgently need to transition to a zero carbon economy but this doesn’t have to come at a price for workers and communities This new pamphlet makes the case for a just transition and energy democracy from the perspective of a civil service trade union, based on public ownership and democratic control of energy that provides an opportunity to re-vision and rebuild our public services for people not profit. Moving motion A41 calling on PCS conference to formally adopt and widely promote the pamphlet, PCS NEC member Clara Paillard said that climate change is not about science or technology, but how we organise as a society. Therefore as a union we need to start seeing climate as part of our industrial agenda and ensuring working class people do not pay for the climate crisis. PCS is developing a programme to distribute the pamphlet across the union, including holding meetings with reps and members to take forward its demands. The Union’s ten demands include: A national plan to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050; Energy democracy based on the public ownership and democratic control of energy; Direct government intervention to create a National Climate Service and related bodies as articulated in the One Million Climate Jobs campaign.
Solarplicity has claimed its new solar initiative could save social housing tenants £200 million a year if they sign up to free LEDs, a smart meter and having solar PV installed where viable. Solar Power Portal reported earlier this month that the company was preparing a low-subsidy residential solar model aimed at social housing, claiming individual tenants could save £240 a year on average on their energy bills. In today’s formal launch, Solarplicity explained that having secured funding from European investor Maas Capital, a subsidiary of ABN AMRO Bank, it will partner with social housing providers to create a Community Energy Scheme providing the energy saving solutions. In addition, the company will offer ‘simply lower energy bills’ using a 100% renewable energy tariff following its acquisition of independent supply firm Lo CO2 Energy last month. Only one rate will be applied, with no standard charges irrespective of the payment method used. The initiative is the result of a detailed procurement process between Solarplicity and Alliance Homes, a social housing provider active in procurement activities for the social sector. The framework agreement enables more than 40 social landlords and 500,000 households to participate. It is expected that the scheme will reach 50,000 households in the next twelve months and 800,000 homes within five years, at which stage these tenants are forecast to save up to £200 million a year through the scheme.
Two communities in Wales will receive energy from a hydro scheme using rain water in Snowdonia. The water runs into the River Ogwen and the aim is to capture the power of its flow to produce electrical energy using hydro technology. It would provide power for Bethesda and Llanberis whose communities funded the £700,000 project through shares. Both schemes will be launched on Saturday.
More than 200 community energy organisations are now operating enough solar, hydro and wind schemes across the UK to power 130,000 homes, a new analysis of the nascent sector has revealed. The first ever Community Energy State of the Sector report today reveals that a total of 222 community energy organisations are operating renewable energy schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland boasting collective capacity of 121MW, or the equivalent to the domestic consumption of 85,500 homes. When that capacity is combined with Scotland’s estimated community energy capacity of 67MW, it means the UK community energy sector can power 130,000 homes, or as many households as there are in Cardiff or Coventry, the report said.
The Fishermen Three windfarm that Community Energy Scotland jointly built with Berwickshire Housing Association has been praised by judges at the British Renewable Energy Awards in London. The 7.5MW development at Hoprigshiels in the Borders was ‘highly commended’ by judges who recognised the partners success in developing the project to achieve social benefits. The windfarm should inject £30 million into affordable housing and the non-profit sector as well as supporting activities chosen by the community itself. ‘The Fisherman Three’ wind farm near Cockburnspath is the first wind farm in the UK to have been developed by a housing association as a means of funding new homes for social rental.
A pioneering green energy project that will see quieter, less polluting bin lorries on Scottish streets and provide eco-friendly power to local businesses has become operational. Levenmouth Community Energy Project (LCEP), based at Methill docks in Fife, is one of the first of its type in the world. It utilises renewable electricity produced locally by a wind turbine and solar panels to create hydrogen from water. Some of the hydrogen is then used to run a fleet of 17 low-emission refuse trucks and vans, while the rest is stored in fuel cells and can be called upon to generate low-carbon electricity when output from the renewables devices is poor. A ‘smart’ microgrid controls how much hydrogen gets stored and how much is converted into power to supply businesses. As well as commissioning two specially adapted dual-fuel bin lorries, the scheme aims to help local firms boost their environmental credentials by offering a range of hydrogen-powered vehicles for hire. LCEP is a partnership between locally based not-for-profit firm Bright Green Hydrogen, Fife Council and Japanese technology giant Toshiba. The scheme has received more than £4 million in support from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund, plus funding from Transport Scotland to install an additional hydrogen storage and refuelling station at the council’s Bankhead vehicle depot in Glenrothes. The initiative has now reached a major milestone as the hi-tech control system is switched on. It means the site is now capable of operating automatically to balance hydrogen storage against renewable generation, and both the Methil and Bankhead refuelling stations are now up and running and capable of servicing vehicles.
A new fleet of buses that run on biomethane have been unveiled by Nottingham City Transport (NCT). The £17m double-decker bus fleet will be powered by a biogas produced by sewage and waste. NCT engineering director, Gary Mason, said: ‘We are hugely proud of our new biogas buses. This is the largest order for gas double decks in the world and is the culmination of our extensive research into alternative fuels. ‘When [biomethane] is used, emissions are 84% lower than their diesel counterparts, thereby making them – from ‘well to wheel’ – the greenest buses on the road.’ The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) said the Government should provide more support for low-carbon transport fuels such as biomethane. ADBA chief executive, Charlotte Morton, said: ‘Scania’s new Bio-Gas buses are a great example of the effectiveness of biomethane as a low-carbon, low-cost transport fuel that can help to reduce the scandalous levels of air pollution we see in towns and cities across the UK, costing thousands of lives each year.
West Sussex County Council is to invest up to £3 million in the roll-out of solar across schools in the region in a scheme intended to create new revenue for the council and save the schools millions. Following a successful pilot in 2015, the local authority’s Environmental & Community Services Select Committee approved an expanded programme to install solar PV systems in up to 52 additional schools in 2017/18. The original plans put forward by the ECSSC suggested between 38 to 48 schools however this could now increase, although they were unable to confirm an exact number.
Thousands of new and existing homes are to be fitted with a range of low carbon technologies including integrated solar PV and battery storage systems as part of landmark funding agreement for the Swansea Bay area of Wales. UK and Welsh government ministers signed the Swansea Bay City Region (SBCR) deal on 20 March which secured £1.3 billion for the region, one of the biggest investments to ever be secured in Wales. Among the various programmes to be in initiated using the SBCR funds is the Homes as Power Stations project to be led by Neath Port Talbot Council.
The Isles of Scilly are to be used as a test hub for smart energy technology in a £10.8 million project backed by the EU and Hitachi. The project will see rooftop solar panels and new energy management systems installed on 100 council-owned homes, about a tenth of the islands’ housing stock, with the households receiving discounted electricity. Ten of the homes will also be fitted with batteries or other technologies to help manage lags between supply and demand. A subsequent phase of the Smart Energy Islands project is expected to see electric cars deployed on the archipelago, with their batteries also used to help manage supply and demand. By 2025, the project aims to cut electricity bills by 40 per cent, meet 40 per cent of energy demand from renewables and for 40 per cent of vehicles on the islands to be either electric or low carbon.