Monthly Archives: December 2011

Go Local Radical Green

(Leominster sun roof)
The business case for going radically green has never been stronger.
In a number of recent talks I’ve stressed the business case for going radically green. For most places we import all, or virtually all, our energy into the local economy, which is a tremendous drain on that economy. A growing number of places are now generating all, or a large proportion, of their electricity, heat and transport fuels from locally owned and controlled renewables. My blog posted on 12th September was about how the small Austrian town of Gussing turned an annual outflow of 6 million Euros into a locally circulating beneficial turnover of 15 million Euros. They are achieving falling carbon emissions, increasing biodiversity and rising prosperity based on locally owned and controlled renewables.
I’ve done a rough calculation and estimate that Herefordshire spends something close to half a billion pounds per annum on energy. This is for all fuels, oil, petrol, gas and electricity for all sectors of the economy. Virtually all this money leaves the County never to return and so represents a huge drain on the County’s economy. I am currently doing some research on the possibilities of transforming the economy of the County with a revolution in how we use energy. The scope for radically improving energy efficiency in buildings, transport and farming systems is immense. A lot of money will need to be invested and by doing so many exciting new business opportunities and jobs will be created. At the same time as investing to save energy we will need to invest in renewable energy. It was very exciting to be at the launch of the Leominster solar roof on Tuesday, our first community owned renewable energy project in the County, and hopefully the first of many!
To find out more, sign-up for my evening classes!
Leominster Solar Roof

Car Sharing, in Hereford?

Sharing resources can have many benefits, and many challenges. A group of us in the Bartonsham area of Hereford are trying to start a car share club. For those of us who use our cars only a couple of times a week or less and mainly for fairly local journeys there are cost savings. For those neighbours who currently do not have cars they’ll get access to the use of one without the costs of buying and running one. Many of our neighbours have cars, sometimes second cars, which seldom get used. Sharing seems a very logical way forward. There are of course powerful psychological attachments that some of us have with our cars. There are also untold fears of doing something new and different.
We plan to follow the very successful model developed by the Colwall car club. A year or two back Robin Coates came over from Colwall and gave us lots of help and advice. Their club, like other community run car share clubs is very much cheaper than the commercially run ones, but it does require some organisation and commitment. Our goal is to get the locally designed Riversimple hydrogen powered cars as soon they become available in a couple of years time. Again, Hugo Spowers of Riversimple has been very helpful and supportive, so too has Judith Whateley at Herefordshire council.
The benefits seem many and obvious: saving money and carbon emissions are the main ones, but freeing up space in the streets, having access to a greater range of vehicles, an increasing number of which would be at the cutting edge of ecological design. One wonders what is holding people back from action: could it be the fear of giving up our own cars with all the status and symbolism that that implies, or is the shared organisation just too daunting. Time will tell. We are actively seeking new local members. In a couple of months we should know if this is a project whose time has come.

Colwall car club
Riversimple hydrogen cars