Report on SE24 Public meeting 6 July 2021: The role of community energy in working towards net zero

Thanks to our four brilliant speakers who made our Public Meeting such a dynamic and worthwhile occasion.

Helen underlined the importance of community energy groups in any national strategy to achieve net zero. She highlighted key events later this year which will determine the policy context for community energy groups: the publication of the government’s Net Zero Strategy in the summer and the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn. Then COP 26 in Glasgow will be an ideal platform for awareness raising and practical action in the UK.

Toby of CREW gave a high tempo, fact-filled presentation about the potential of heat pumps for weaning us off gas for heating. There are significant technical issues to overcome with London housing stock with small gardens and a nationwide shortage of qualified installers for heat pumps. Toby argued that heat pumps make economic sense (as well as carbon reduction sense) particularly as gas prices rise and can pay back the investment more quickly than you might think. Community energy can play a key role in awareness raising and in pooling expertise to help create a sense of possibility. Toby’s presentation is available here.

Jon, team leader for Beacon CAP partnership (Christians Against Poverty) addressed the causes of poverty. He argued that there is no need to separate out ‘fuel poverty’ as a separate category. People are fuel poor because they are poor and the solutions is to tackle the underlying causes of poverty – number one of which is always low income. Jon’s presentation is available here.

Simon rounded up the meeting with professional clarity. Based on CSE’s 40-year experience of (which began, he said, with four people in a pub in 1979 agreeing ‘we have to do something about this!’ but which is now a £4m turnover charity employing 90 people involved in almost all aspects of sustainability) he outlined the five facets of change that are needed to achieve Net Zero – and where community energy has a part to play. We need real world ‘next first steps’ to make a difference in the areas we can influence before we dream too big or feel overwhelmed. His presentation is available here.

Chat highlights

Presentation slides

SE24 Introduction

Toby Costin: Heat pumps

Jon Taylor: Fuel poverty

Simon Roberts: Community Energy’s role in Net Zero