At the AGM we thanked Colin Crooks who has stepped down as a Director of SE24 having given so much to our operation over the past 5 years.
In his place we welcome a brand new, highly qualified director – Kirsty Hamilton. We asked Kirsty to introduce herself to SE24 by explaining why she is so keen to get more involved in Community Energy.
July 2023 saw the hottest global temperatures on record, horrific scenes of fires raging across the Mediterranean and north Africa on the nightly news. This is amid a litany of climate-change linked disasters, many occurring in parts of the world where communities do not have the resources to respond and bounce back.
It’s a year on from 40C London, coinciding with the evolving energy price crisis that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The latter threw a powerful spotlight on the real cost of delays to insulating or retrofitting our homes and buildings for the future (both cold and heat) as well as the benefit renewables can bring.
Community energy can seem a small place to start in the face of such challenges given the scale and pace of climate action that is needed and the energy geopolitics that hinder decisive action. However, I believe that new locally developed models for energy solutions are an expanding and essential part of change.
Local ownership of projects through share offers is one SE24 example. These are new actions and solutions that literally start at home, in schools and community buildings we all use and involve new models such as community shareholding.
Retrofit and energy efficiency
The SE24 AGM and Public Meeting in June included excellent presentation from Harry Paticas, founder of RAFT – Retrofit Action for Tomorrow about RAFT’s pioneering work to improve energy efficiency in schools, and in the process to involve, educate and motivate pupils to make do their bit to improve energy efficiency.
Community Energy London
We also welcomed Syed Ahmed, Chair of Community Energy London (CEL) who eloquently argued the case that community energy has had a significant impact on policy in London and nationally. He introduced a brilliant search tool (the ‘potential map’) which allows anyone to find community buildings, in each borough, that are suitable for solar PV generation. Local council funding for community energy was another theme. CEL highlight hundreds of initiatives across London featuring SE24 installations!
That’s why I’m so pleased to be joining SE24 after over 30 years working at the international and national end of climate and energy as a Scot in Nunhead for the last 17 years.
I started out as a climate campaigner in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1990 (with the energy efficiency authority pulling together the analysis on the ‘avoided cost of electricity generation’– ‘negawatts’ – in 1989!).
As a campaigner I was at COP1 of the climate negotiations in 1995 and most recently COP26 in Glasgow! It is sobering thought though: in the year of COP1 global CO2 concentrations averaged 360ppm; by teh time of COP26 in Glasgow had escalated to 412 ppm.
Much of my campaigning endeavour in London has been at the intersect between the financial sector and green energy policy – aiming to accelerate investment in renewables – but larger scale.
To me, all of these threads are linked, focusing on action on the ground that benefits people locally is going to be mission critical. Here we are, again, 4 months from the onset of winter it seems more urgent than ever that actions are enabled at home or in community-focused and public buildings.
The work of SE24 and other community energy groups is part of making that happen. The photo below shows their project at Charter School North Dulwich – two projects in one – community solar plus retrofit energy efficiency improvements.
SE24 installed more 300 plus panels on the school roofs to generate green electricity; and installed more than 1200 new LED light fittings inside which massively reduced the school’s electricity bills and their carbon footprint.
International action in parallel with local action
Retrofit is certainly not easy. I know from personal experience trying to make my small flat more energy efficient (freezing in winter, boiling in summer – the familiar story) on a small budget and waiting to see what the Great British Insulation Scheme will do.
At the international level many are actively trying to ensure this year’s COP – COP28 – in UAE in late November ramps up commitment to global renewables. It is also essential to cut out fossil fuels and provide ‘climate finance’ for greater resilience and adaptation to climate change.
But closer to home, I’m keen to see what I can contribute to SE24, and what I can learn from the exceptionally experienced SE24 Board of energy experts and leaders.