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
When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences