Hackney Energy has struggled to get a new solar power/community energy project up and running this past year. The big issue is government cuts in support for community energy - as frackers, the Tories seem to despise the wishes of local communities.
Meanwhile, Hackney Council decided not to support the Wilton Estate solar scheme while it works out a borough-wide energy plan. It's six months since the local elections and we haven't heard anything further.
If we had received support from the council, we would probably now be installing solar panels on the Wilton Estate, with the help of a grant from the London Mayor's Community Energy scheme. As every year goes, by we lose a year’s worth of potential carbon savings on Wilton Estate. Meanwhile, we are still in discussion with the Rio Cinema for a scheme on its huge roof on Kingsland Road.
We were not alone: 2017 was a challenging year for community energy nationally, according to Community Energy England. Only one new community organisation was set up in 2017, with 30 fewer successful projects and 31% less generation capacity installed or acquired in comparison to 2016.
The sector faces increasing risk, which include the impacts of feed in tariff cuts and the withdrawal of tax incentive, with lower project margins impeding the progress of the community energy sector in 2017.
However, the community energy sector is resilient: Whilst conditions have been difficult, there have been a number of successes in large-scale generation, increased innovation and greater collaboration throughout the sector.
For an idea of the impact of community energy, look no further than Bannister House in Homerton. The latest report from Bannister House Solar shows that during the operating period from January to December 2017, the 102 kilowatt solar array on the rooftops of the estate generated a total of 79,877 kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power 23 average UK homes. This generation resulted in 39 tonnes of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.
So yes, hurry up Hackney!
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