Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rural Communities Revived By Energy

19.07.2007
A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, of community renewable energy projects in Britain has found that so far, projects are largely based in the countryside, some quite remote. From wind turbines to shared heating systems, small-scale renewable energy doesn’t just help in the fight against climate change. It can also bring people together, revitalise local economies and help alleviate poverty.

Community energy projects generate energy renewably, at a local level. They involve anything from a community-owned wind turbine to a solar panel on a village shop. In recent years, government policy has highlighted the benefits of this kind of distributed, small-scale energy generation, and various national programmes have sprung up to fund and support specific projects.

This study documented more than 500 community energy projects happening in the UK, far more than researchers expected to find. “There is a huge demand for this,” says project leader Professor Gordon Walker. “It’s no longer a question of convincing the public that small scale renewable energy is a good idea. Whenever money is made available it is snapped up immediately, and the funding schemes have been horribly over-subscribed.”

The vast majority of projects are rural. Walker suggests that some renewable technologies, like wind turbines or biomass heating, are more suited to rural areas, where they can provide a new source of income for farmers. Also rural people are less well integrated into energy infrastructure than urbanites. Many villages are off the gas network, and electricity supplies may be unreliable, so there is more drive towards alternative sources of energy.

But perhaps the rural bias reflects stronger communities in rural areas. Some projects have been set up and run by communities, with shared ownership of the technology, like a co-operatively owned 75 kilowatt wind turbine at Bro Dyfi in Wales. Walker says that although there isn’t a clear recipe for success, good projects are often driven forward by strong local enthusiasts, intent on meeting a local need.

Renewable energy seen as a way to enliven rural economies. For example, a project to install a biomass boiler, heating a school and 19 houses in Wales provided a market for local wood, and a new heating system for houses that had had little investment. There were cultural and technological barriers to overcome. It took a lot of negotiation to persuade householders to share their boiler with other buildings. “Even if a technology is tried and tested in other countries, setting it up in Britain can be a whole new learning process,” say Walker. “It’s important that there is support and guidance available, and funding for that learning process.”

Of course, things aren’t always rosy. There can be serious fractures and disagreements within rural communities, as anyone who listens to The Archers will know. Local energy projects can galvanise the conflict. The research documented a case of resistance against three local farmers who won more than £2.5 million of funding to erect a small wind farm.

According to Walker, distributed energy generation could be a much bigger part of our energy network than is imagined at the moment. But the government needs a stronger vision, and must provide longer-term support to get projects off the ground.

Annika Howard | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>