Report by Jinni King
On the 9-10th March I was delighted to be invited along to the Regen Community Energy Spring Gathering with SDCE. There were representatives from most of the community energy groups in Devon along with many from further afield. We also had representatives from Local Authorities and Western Power Distribution.
Over the two days we came together at Dartington Hall estate in an open space format, meaning we chose the topics to we wanted to discuss.
As a new member of SDCE I had much to learn and came away feeling almost overwhelmed by the breadth of knowledge and expertise shared by those present, and incredibly enthused by their infectious energy.
While the reductions in Feed in Tariffs have made Community Energy projects more challenging over recent years, there was certainly a feeling of hope as battery storage, local supply options, sustainable housing projects and buyback of existing solar and wind assets open up new opportunities for communities to invest in their energy provision, and receive investment back.
The scale of the positive feedback of Community Energy schemes was something I hadn’t quite grasped before the weekend. Renewable installations generate not only energy, but profits which feed into communities. These can be used to provide energy advice to those in need, bringing down energy demands in the community. They can be used for further community renewable installations, further reducing demand, and generating further profits. Which in turn can be reinvested. And on the cycle goes…
I’m looking forward to helping out in any way I can to help make the PL21 area as sustainable as possible, and encourage anyone with an interest to get in touch to find out more. I‘m so glad I did!
In February we'll be running a series of free information sessions to help you get on top of your energy bills.
Packed with top tips and 'how-to's', you can leave feeling confident on how to get the most from your supplier and whether you could access any help with insulation or other financial support.
Sessions will take place in the evenings in Dartmouth, Modbury Kingsbridge Ivybridge, Yealmpton and South Brent.
The sessions are free, but booking is essential.
Our favourite winner was Kate Royston at Tamar Energy Community who won Best Community Initiative. Kate works unbelievably hard, often on her own, and has successfully implemented several community owned solar PV schemes in Tavistock as well as reducing fuel poverty.
One of our directors, Katie, was shortlisted in the Sustainable Energy Champion Category for her amazing work on fuel poverty in the local area. The award was won by Alistair Macpherson, CEO of the incredible Plymouth Energy Community. PEC are our nearest community energy neighbours and are very generous with their support to us at SDCE, we offer huge congratulations to Alistair!
Further details on the other award winners will be found on the Regen website. SDCE is a member of Regen, and has found the support they offer to community energy groups across the UK, encouraging us to upskill and join the table with the big players in the energy industry, is fantastic. So a big thanks to Regen!
We have such a great team of directors here at SDCE, it is really exciting to be able to recognise their achievements.
So we nominated Katie, for Regen's South West Sustainable Energy Champion.
We're very proud that Katie has been shortlisted in such a tough field, there are many amazing people working to make more sustainable energy projects happen across the South West.
Katie has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of climate change and make our local area more sustainable for a long time. She was instrumental in setting up SDCE and developing our energy advice service which helped over 600 people reduce their energy bills last winter.
To see who Katie is up against, check out the Regen website!
We're pleased to announce that we have secured Awards for All funding from the Big Lottery for our South Hams Warm and Well project.
This will enable us to continue our free and impartial energy advice service to vulnerable householders through the coming Winter.
We're looking for local groups to work with, we'd love to come and give a talk, hold a drop in session, run a tariff switching workshop - you name it, if it helps people keep their homes warm and healthy, we'll do it!
We're currently working on our outreach programme, so watch this space.
Please get in touch if you think we can help you.
It was a gorgeously sunny evening for our event on Wednesday 5th July, we were delighted that over 30 people joined us to hear about the national movement of community energy groups across the UK, and what we are doing right here in our corner of South Devon.
We heard from Jake Burnyeat at Communities for Renewables about how the UK energy network is changing as more and more renewable energy generation projects come on line, Tim Crook-Giles from Regen spoke about the evolution and rise of community energy groups across the UK - there are now more than 220 organisations!
Jon Selman from our neighbours at Plymouth Energy Community shared some of their experiences of delivering successful projects and how these are benefiting the local community. Then our own Katie Reville explained what SDCE is doing to meet the challenges and take advantage of all the opportunities available, and last but not least Peter Brown from Yealm Community Energy described their large solar scheme.
Everyone was quite inspired by the potential to get involved in all these exciting projects, and it was great to have support from so many local organisations and neighbouring energy groups.
Click on the photos below to download the pdf presentations.
We all really enjoyed listening to Matt Harvey, a local poet, read some of his poems over dinner. You can buy his book or download a free e-book here.
In a few weeks events will be taking place across the UK to celebrate Community Energy Fortnight. SDCE has hopped on the bandwagon and is launching three different events.
The first is a poster competition with students from Ivybridge Community College, we know that young people care about our planet, and we want to give them a space to have their voice heard and a chance to work on a real PR campaign to inspire and motivate people to make lifestyle changes. The deadline is 10th June.
Then, on the 17th June we'll be holding our very first Energy Lab, a mini interactive exhibition on energy. Open between from 9.30am - 1pm in the pop-up shop in Glanvilles Mill in Ivybridge. The winning posters will be on display. And there will be activities for all ages. Why not pop down and chat to the team, and find out what we're up to.
Our third event is on the 5th July at Ivybridge Library with speakers from Regen, Plymouth Energy Community and SDCE. This is our evening session on the Community Energy Revolution. A great opportunity to hear about the changes happening in the energy market and how communities can benefit.
Hope to see you somewhere!
We were sad to say goodbye to Andrew Ashley as Chair of SDCE, who has been a great part of the team. We're very grateful for everything he has brought to SDCE.
We're delighted that Alan Calcott will now step up from Vice Chair to Chair. Alan has been integral to getting the team up to speed on the technicalities of roof top solar PV projects and going out and meeting potential business partners.
And to replace Alan, Katie Reville was voted in as Vice Chair. Katie is a non-stop force for change, currently working on developing some really exciting new projects for SDCE.
If you're interested in joining the team, we'd love to hear from you, please get in touch.