Thursday, 1 October 2015

Balcombe: community-owned solar park given go-ahead

An application to build a smaller solar farm on the outskirts of Sidmouth has been rejected - largely on the grounds that it would be in AONB land:
Futures Forum: Solar Plan for Sidmouth: yet another application rejected

Most of these proposals are from developers/larger companies outside the area in question - and it is not always clear how the local community would benefit:
Futures Forum: Proposed new solar farm in Exmouth: public consultation: Tuesday 18th August: questions about community benefit...
Futures Forum: Solar farms and community sweeteners

However, solar energy is a source which can be exploited 'locally':
Futures Forum: “Solar energy has a very broad implication. It falls over the entire earth. It’s very decentralized. If energy can be picked up from any point on the Earth, it suggests to you that you don’t need central mechanisms; that you can produce important things at a local level.” Thus “the Sun says ‘freedom.’ ”

And it is a source which could be owned and managed locally:
Futures Forum: Council-run solar farms – a new trend? 
Futures Forum: "In most other countries, renewable energy projects are owned by local communities: and so there's a huge groundswell of support for them."
Futures Forum: Community Energy Coalition

In fact, there is more support for solar:
Futures Forum: "Public consistently backs solar over shale."

One community which is trying to turn its back on fracking is Balcombe:
Futures Forum: Balcombe: making a community self-sufficient in electricity

This is a report just out from the 10:10 campaign group:


Don't look now, but this might just work
Fantastic news: Sussex planners just unanimously approved Balcombe's nature-friendly, whole-village-powering solar park!
Their crazy plan to go 100% solar is starting to look doable. But now the real work starts.
This is one of the most ambitious community solar projects ever, and very soon they'll be asking the whole country to help make it happen.
But this isn't just about getting power from the sun. It's about the power of an example: a community thrust into the limelight and branded nimbies for opposing fracking, rolling up their sleeves to build something better.
People all over the world are watching Balcombe right now, hoping this can work. Soon we'll have a chance to prove them right.
Mal and the Back Balcombe team

Back Balcombe | 1010

Balcombe is just the beginning

This isn't just about one village. It's a chance to prove that a better way can work.

Copenhagen's offshore wind turbines are owned by the municipal power company and 10,000 citizen investors. Photo: Thomas Rousing
Copenhagen's offshore wind turbines are owned by the municipal power company and 10,000 citizen investors. Photo: Thomas Rousing

Local doesn't have to mean small

Today's community energy projects are mostly quite small, but that's starting to change.
Citizen-owned clean power is already a big part of the mix in Germany – with the right support, we can do it too.

We can ditch fossil power sooner than you think

While some were busy insisting that a fossil-free grid was impossible, others have been working away to make it happen.
With cheap energy storage, large-scale tidal power and demand-shifting schemes all racing ahead, the future might be closer than you think.
Jackie and Laurie watching the solar installation at Balcombe primary school. Photo: Tom Chadwick
Jackie and Laurie watching the solar installation at Balcombe primary school. Photo: Tom Chadwick

Balcombe can show the way

Since the fracking furore in 2013, Balcombe has been the reluctant poster child for the UK's energy debate.
What happens here reverberates around the world, and they've already inspired other places threatened by flooding and fracking to follow in their footsteps.
Not just a local story

Back Balcombe

See also:
Balcombe celebrates permission to build solar park (From The Argus)
Balcombe solar project welcomed by Greens - West Sussex County Times


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