Re-energise Issue 2

February 2008

We now have over 20 members and regular monthly meetings with ongoing discussion between times. We are currently reviewing existing local energy saving initiatives and potential for community renewables projects. 

Thanks to group members Debbie Hewitt, SDC Renewable Energy Officer and Paul Sheridan, SWEA, we have an insiders view on existing energy saving schemes and where things are heading. We will in due course publish this information on the new TS website and perhaps we can help simplify things for people. However there is a feeling that simply producing more leaflets is not a good approach and that people need personal advice and support in making energy saving changes.

SWEA has launched a new project called Energy Neighbourhoods linked to communities across Europe. This is an energy saving competition and they are recruiting parish councils and residents associations who may want to take part. Stroud will be entering two teams via the Town Council and we hope this will generate positive publicity about the benefits, environmental and financial, or energy saving brought about by behavioural change. Dave Cockcroft who’s heading up STC involvement in the project says "This will try to make energy saving sexy by making it competitive with other towns right around Europe. It’s also about capacity building and will train up volunteers Energy Masters within the local community." – more on this soon!

Several members of the group are also involved in another SDC / SWEA initiative – Target 2050 – which is seeking to support a range of local households rapidly reach the current 2050 carbon reduction target of 60% and become exemplars for others wishing to make rapid changes to lessen their carbon footprint.

Our review of possible community renewable schemes has already had a look at the possibility of locally produced biofuels (liquid fuels) and rejected this (a separate report available soon will explain why) for all but biodiesel produced from recycled vegetable oil. However recycled cooking oil appears to be in short supply and will not be a significant resource. We will look further at biomass – wood resources for combustion – and will be arranging visits to Archway School to see the woodchip boilers and a couple of local wood pellet boiler installations as well as Gloucestershire Wood Fuels depot at Huntley.

Next months meeting (Mar 19th) will be on water power looking at small scale hydro on local rivers and streams. Following month will be community wind power.

On the buildings front we have also visited the new Greenshop office building in Bisley and had a tour with Roger Budgeon. There’s an open day Saturday 26th April and we encourage as many folks as possible to take the opportunity to find out more about this exciting low energy building right on our doorstep. We are also working with Alastair Gordon and Mike Atherton of the Waldorf College with advice and hopefully hands on workshops on the construction of some small low impact buildings in the grounds of Upper Grange.

We are also supporting Philip Booth’s efforts to establish a sustainable homes and gardens event where local pioneers in transition can throw open their premises in a similar manner to open studios. This is slated for September this year and may be linked to the walking festival.

The long term aim remains to set up an ESCO (Energy Services Company) to develop community renewable power schemes and promote energy saving.

Regular meetings are 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Gold Room at Centre for Science and Art.

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