The words “energy” and “crisis” are almost joined at the hip these days.
It is a crisis with many ugly heads –
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated an already struggling energy landscape. Back in September 2021 we reported on the dire situation of energy suppliers going bust, leaky homes, and the vulnerability of our gas supplies. This backdrop, with the Ukraine crisis on top, has created a monster of a problem with UK bill payers facing the brunt of it.
The government response so far
The release of the government Energy Security Strategy earlier this year had mixed responses. There are some really promising developments in offshore wind, in particular for floating offshore wind which has real potential for huge generation in the South West. Unfortunately there was no mention of energy efficiency in the government report, despite it being the cheapest way to reduce gas usage and protect people from increasing bills. This missed opportunity left many people feeling disappointed and concerned.
A proposed Energy Security Bill has suggested there will be a government commitment to clean and affordable energy. This seems potentially at odds with the proposals for pushing nuclear, which will actually increase cost of bills for households, take decades to build, and poses serious environmental concerns in both building and disposal stages.
Community energy taking action
At Bristol Energy Cooperative, our attitude is not to wait and rely on governments to make the right decisions. Alongside many other community energy organisations, we are taking action now to try to support the route to a clean, affordable and secure energy system.
In the next 12 months Bristol Energy Coop has a wide range of projects lined up. There will be rooftop solar projects on a number of sites including the Bristol Beacon and a children’s nursery school. There is also a major battery storage project in the pipeline, and a microgrid scheme on an affordable housing development.
Importantly, we are engaging people to be part of the clean energy transition. Right now, individuals can get a stake in these renewable energy projects by investing in our current share offer, which is open until 30th June 2022.
For anyone able to take action in this way, it can be really empowering to know your savings are making a measurable difference.
Reasons to be hopeful
A decarbonised energy system that pulls in the community isn’t just some pipe dream. There are many players working to make it a reality.
Regen’s “Day in the Life” project with the National Grid maps out what a cloudy, still, winter’s day in 2035 might look like for the energy network. It demonstrates how we can achieve a reliable, clean and affordable network using smart storage, flexibility on the grid, plus a range of renewable sources and integration with other countries. They’ve even mapped out a timeline of actions for what needs to happen. The roadmap is there, and the solutions are all achievable.
Alongside this we have over 400 community energy organisations across the UK working hard to level up the energy system. In 2020, the community energy sector saved consumers £2.9million off their energy bills through energy advice or targeted support for community buildings. On top of this, over £3million was channelled into community benefit initiatives. The sector is working to ensure the benefits of renewable energy are felt at local level, especially to support those hardest hit by the energy crisis.
Ways to get involved