“TRESOC – a new type of community renewables company… a business that should be funded… TRESOC may enable Totnes to become one of the first towns to operate its own independent generation and energy retailing company supplying local homes and businesses with ‘local’ electricity” – Chris Goodall, Carbon Commentary
Community Energy retains overwhelming backing of UK Public, and increased support among Conservative voters, Survey finds.
Embargoed until 03 September 2016
COMMUNITY ENERGY RETAINS OVERWHELMING BACKING OF UK PUBLIC, AND INCREASED SUPPORT AMONG CONSERVATIVE VOTERS, SURVEY FINDS
An overwhelming majority of the public would support local renewable energy projects, including wind turbines, if they were owned and controlled by the community, according to new research from Co-operative Energy. This includes not just Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party supporters, but also those who identify with the Conservative Party.
More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of the 2,000 UK adults polled said they would support local community-owned renewable energy projects such as wind turbines, with just 8% in opposition. Support among Conservative voters increased from 62% in 2015 to 65% in 2016.
A staggering 78 per cent of the public thought that the Government should do more ‘to help local communities generate their own energy, with profits staying in the area’. Just 6 percent opposed this. Again, support among Conservative voters increased, from 73% in 2015 to 76% in 2016.
The findings directly challenge the Government’s recent decisions to slash subsidies for small, local renewable energy schemes and to bar investors from access to social investment tax relief.
Two-thirds (68%) of respondents say that they are prepared to pay a small surcharge each year on their energy bill to fund an expansion of community energy, with just 15% opposing this. While 58% believe that the Government should change its mind and once again offer tax relief to those individuals who take the risk of investing in community energy, with just 12% against. Backing for these measures was higher still among Conservative supporters.
More generally, more than half (52 percent) of those surveyed said they would support a wind turbine within two miles of their home – nearly three times as many as the 18 percent who would oppose it. Support among Conservative supports increased from 43% in 2015 to 47% in 2016.
Support for solar farms was even more overwhelming: with 61 percent of the public supporting a project within two miles of their home, and just 11 percent against.
Ramsay Dunning, Managing Director at Co-operative Energy said: “This poll shows that the Government’s recent hostility to further growth in onshore wind turbines and solar farms is out of kilter with the vast majority of the UK public, including Conservative Party supporters. Moreover, people want to see growth in local, community-owned projects and are willing to pay a small surcharge on their bills to help this happen. Co-operative Energy and the Energy Savings Trust have previously calculated that for just 25p per customer per annum, the UK could grow its community energy capacity from 200MW to 3,000MW in a few short years. The newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and its welcomingly engaged ministers have a fantastic opportunity to tap the public’s goodwill and provide a significant boost to the UK’s social enterprise economy.”
Will Dawson, Head of Energy at Forum for the Future and Chair of the Community Energy Coalition, said: “I am really pleased to see support across political views grow even higher for communities owning and benefiting from their own energy projects. The CEC members see a rapid switch to renewable energy communities and energy efficient homes and businesses as vital for Britain’s future. We want the government to stand with us and do more to help British communities take control of their energy locally.”
Research commissioned by Co-operative Energy, undertaken by ICM 19th-23rd August 2016 and 21st- 23rd August 2015, with 2,000+ UK adults each time.
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About Co-operative Energy:
Co-operative Energy launched in 2010 and now has over 250,000 customers. Over half of its customers are Co-operative members and it is the first major British energy supply business to be Co-operatively owned. Co-operative Energy employs over 500 colleagues and is part of The Midcounties Co-operative, the largest independent Co-operative in the UK.
From inception, a primary aim of Co-operative Energy has been to facilitate the expansion of community energy generation projects. Via power purchase agreements we provide a secure market for community energy, and now have numerous agreements in place (or under development) with community energy projects. Supported community energy projects range from co-operatives through to charitable trusts and crowd-sourced debt offerings. Supported technologies include wind, solar PV and hydroelectric.
We also support key enablers such Community Energy Fortnight (where we have acted as primary sponsor and enabler in 2014, 2015 and 2016) and have organised the UK’s largest annual gathering of community energy groups for the past four years. This year’s Conference, which will open Community Energy Fortnight on September 3rd, looks set to be the most impactful and largest yet.
About Community Energy Fortnight and Community Energy Coalition:
The fourth Community Energy Fortnight runs from 3rd and 18th September 2016 and is organised by the Community Energy Coalition (CEC) and Community Energy England (CEE). The Community Energy Fortnight, sponsored by Co-operative Energy for the third consecutive year, gives people the chance to visit community projects in their local area, all of which are actively engaged in generating and/or saving energy for the benefit of local people. From visits to wind farms and solar parks to energy efficiency workshops, the events bring community energy to life and give people up and down the country the chance to see how they can get involved in this growing sector.
Details of the 2016 Community Energy Fortnight calendar of events across the UK are detailed at www.ukcec.org/events/community-fortnight-2016
The Community Energy Coalition (CEC) was formed in 2011 by some of the UK’s most influential and trusted institutions and charities such as the Church of England, the Women’s Institute (WI), the National Union of Students (NUS), the National Trust, The Co-operative Energy, Community Energy England and Forum for the Future. It aims to ignite an energy revolution which places communities at its heart. It strives for a clean, affordable and secure energy system for all, by helping communities across the UK to own, generate and save energy together. Visit www.ukcec.org
The Energy Potential of Local Food Waste
Caspar Sayany, MEng Renewable Energy student at Exeter Uni student and Tresoc intern, presented his research findings. Caspar interviewed 49 businesses in Totnes and found they produce 164 tonnes of food waste per year, or 3,161kg/week. The UK’s millions of tonnes of unavoidable food waste, like peelings and apple cores, has costs – energy, money, space, time, smell and environmental. Our AD project at Dartington at Old Parsonage Farm will be a great way to recycle nutients and to produce energy. Separating waste will be the challenge…. maybe we can learn from Japan‘s gomi (rubbish) guides: “Trash-related issues could easily become a cause of trouble with your neighbors. To establish a comfortable life for both you and others in the community, it is important to follow local rules for trash collection.”
Take a look at Caspar’s presentation, download it here.
Polish producer Adam Dzienis, filming Caspar, is creating a film to highlight the vital and thriving contribution of co-operative energy across Europe.
Staverton Director sought for BenCom
The newly formed Staverton Hydro Community Benefit Society is seeking a Director from Staverton to join its small team. Details of role and responsibilities to follow. For initial enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tresoc dispatches from the community renewable energy frontline
The Tresoc team has been busy lately managing new investments in solar (the roofs of Bidwell Brook School and Lescaze House on the Dartington Estate) and Staverton Leat Hydro, and the Society is on target to make a profit in the current financial year. With all that’s happening its not always easy to keep our patient and loyal members fully informed. Our Managing Director, Ian Bright ventures into the blogosphere to bring you up to date with Tresoc affairs.
Putting our hydro knowledge to good use
We are moving forward with the Staverton Leat Hydro Project, researching the history of the Town Mills hydro plant that was in operation for 40 years, generating electricity for the Dartington Estate. Read the story, it’s a fascinating history! This small-scale, regenerative project will incorporate a single Archimedes turbine. In addition, the project aims to restore the leat walls, which have fallen into disrepair and are threatened by inconsistent water levels. A new fish pass and smoult pass will help up- and down-stream migration of river life.
Totnes Weir Hydro Share Offer reaches the target
Tresoc Members invested just over £300,000 in the iconic 300 kW Totnes Weir hydro power plant. Because the target was reached through local investment, there was no need to open up the share offer to a wider audience—local investment works! Triodos have sent out share certificates. If you missed out on this opportunity, don’t fret, more good things are on the way. We have a working partnership with the Hydrosense consortium, developers of the Totnes weir site, and we are moving forward with a new, local hydro project and more on-roof solar. Get in touch if you’d be interested in investing.
Read more about this Share Offer.
Totnes Weir hydro delivers!
The Totnes Weir hydro plant has been generating electricity since December 2015. It’s two turbines each produce power for KEVICC school and the foundry on the Industrial Estate and the plant is currently over-delivering – from an installed capacity of 300 kW up to 370 kW! Designed to withstand a 100 year flood and the additional impact of high spring tides and increased river levels due to climate change, the scheme has coped admirably with the recent storms we’ve been having.
In the photo, the left turbine is providing power to KEVICC and the right turbine to the Foundry on the Industrial Estate.
AGM Member survey results
Thanks to those members who filled in surveys at our AGM back in December 2015. Here are 3 general findings that support our role in the Community Energy movement:
- Tresoc is raising awareness of the issues surrounding community renewable energy
- Tresoc is seen to act responsibly in its decision-making and actions and is thought to be effectively consulting its members
- Tresoc offers a viable alternative to conventional investing.
The full report can be found here on our Member page (under 02/12/15 AGM) with lots of detail on the 9 questions we asked.
Renewables are undeniably the way forward
The outcome of COP21 is something to celebrate: net-zero human emissions – a balancing of what we release into the air and what is taken out – and when the dust settles and the Paris Agreement is in the hands of lawmakers, clean energy will be the best, cheapest, and most effective way to keep their promise. What else?
- At least $100 billion in finance after 2020 to keep the money for poor countries flowing for decades;
- A promise to meet every five years to increase ambition and move us closer and closer to the day the net-zero world becomes reality; and
- A global agreement that climate change is a world problem, requiring cooperation from Saudi Arabia to Spain to Senegal to deliver a future for this human family.
Most importantly, the mobilization in the face of climate change sends a clear message to investors everywhere: sinking money into fossil fuels is a dead bet. Renewables are the profit centre. Technology to bring us to 100% clean energy is the money-maker of the future.
Hooray, we are Best Community Initiative, 2015!
Tresoc is the winner of the RegenSW’s 2015 South West Green Energy Award for the Best Community Initiative. “As judges, we are impressed by the dedication and achievements of community led energy initiatives, an area showing substantial growth and momentum across the country and particularly here in the South West. This is an ambitious movement that is increasingly showing it can deliver. The year’s winner has an excellent balance of community engagement with local residents and has developed an innovative partnership model with a housing association and local installer.
It has successfully installed solar PV on social housing, to provide power to local households and reduce their electricity bills significantly. Please can I invite onto the stage the winner of the 2015 South West Green Energy Award for the Best Community Initiative: TRESOC”
– Emma Bridge, Community Energy England, lead judge
“Winning the “Best Community Initiative” in the South West is a great compliment that you and the entire TRESOC team richly deserve for your passionate desire to develop green energy opportunities in and around Totnes.”
– Ian Alexander, Charity Bank