18 Sep 2010

Letter to Stroud Life: renewables more than just well intentioned

Here is my letter sent in response to the comment piece in Stroud Life this week. It is also a chance to thank the homeowners especially for sharing their homes....

Photo: getting ready for the installers fair last Saturday

Stroud Life reported on the huge interest in the Eco-Renovation Open Homes weekend which saw over 1000 visits to the installers fair and eco-homes (15/09/10). As in previous years the event was put on by volunteers and the vast majority of visitors are looking at what is possible in terms of renewables and energy efficiency measures in their homes. Huge thanks to all who helped make it possible, especially the homeowners.

The Stroud Life editor comments many of the measures suggested are 'well intentioned but still beyond the means of most'. However they are not so 'expensive' if you compare with having savings in a low interest bearing account. One recent exciting development is the introduction of Feed-In Tariffs. This means that people can now get returns of as much as 10%, by for example investing in Solar PV. However as Stroud Life points out, borrowing is still beyond the reach of many and not all sites are suitable for solar. Another option for some, might be to consider the free PV systems that are being offered: although looking at the small print is very advisable. Open Homes is also about trying to support local installers and encourage this industry locally.

Sadly Britain is third from bottom in renewables in Europe: only Malta and Luxembourg are worse. The 'pioneers' who shared their homes over the weekend are part of a revolution in energy that many of us believe must happen. If we are to tackle climate change and rising energy prices then this is where the future lies. The UK is also moving from being a net exporter to net importer of energy and the vulnerabilities of energy supply mean that it is shortsighted to not make renewables a priority investment.

Here in Stroud there is much more we could be doing. Kirklees Greens for example have successfully proposed a programme of free solar panels for Council buildings: the capital costs of PV being covered by the new Feed-In tariff. Their next step is to extend this concept to Council houses and private householders. Locally work is being done on seeing if a similar scheme is possible here: it is vital we find ways to tackle the growing number of households in fuel poverty in the District.

In the meantime many of the visitors reported that they hadn't appreciated how much they could do in terms of saving energy. It is amazing how much energy/money can be saved by measures like draft exclusion and adding more loft insulation (which is free to many). For advice, grants and discounts call the local Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800 512 012.

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor and one of the organisers of Transition Stroud Open Homes



Do you not think that without serious legislation changes the nimby elite will keep us at the bottom of the renewables league?

Philip Booth said...

It is true we do need improved and updated planning regulations that allow us to develop renewables. Other schemes like the Feed-In tariff will help....

Alexander said...

Good post, very interesting