wadebridge renewable energy network
by Tim Willmott : Be the first to leave a comment
The town of Wadebridge in Cornwall looks set to become Britain’s first ‘solar-powered town’. The town’s local MP and chamber of commerce are pushing through plans to generate a third of Wadebridge’s electricity through solar power by 2015, via a new social enterprise called Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN). WREN will install solar panels on residents’ roofs free of charge, then collect feed-in tariffs from the government which will go towards community funds. Dr Bridget Woodman of Exeter University, who is monitoring the project, says it is the first time anything like this has ever been attempted.
WREN is a social enterprise with three aims:
- Establish a low carbon economy within this North Cornwall town and its surrounding parishes (a population of some 10,000 individuals).
- Invest the benefits within the locality.
- Subject the process to rigorous evaluation.
Wadebridge thinks that by approaching reduced carbon emissions and renewable energy use as a whole town, rather than individually, substantial reductions can be made in the cost of implementation with the added bonus that it can produce further benefits for the community at large. Their desire to see a proportion of revenue generated by renewable energies to remain within the community. And the amounts are not insignificant. They anticipate generating an income to be paid to a Wadebridge community trust fund in excess of £300,000 a year.
National targets for reduced carbon emissions cannot be met unless change occurs in the use and generation of energy in entire communities. This simple fact is often overlooked. Although individual action is important, it is only action at community level and higher that can produce the large-scale reduction that is needed, as explained in the article that looks at the argument for nuclear power, Fukushima and nuclear energy.
WREN are implementing and evaluating this rigorous programme of carbon reduction in a defined population of 10,000 people in order to increase understanding of the barriers and pathways to success, and the outcomes of this programme are designed to be generalizable to the wider implementation of the low carbon economy.