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Start With Renewables at Local Level, say Low Carbon Hub

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Low Carbon Hub is thinks a more local approach to energy is possible in Oxfordshire and the UK. The social enterprise, who are based in Oxford, think that using renewables in local areas could have a positive knock on effect to the rest of the country. To help raise funds for their inspiring vision, Low Carbon Hub is inviting investment in 19 new community energy projects.

The Low Carbon Hub Community Energy Manifesto, published this week, sets out their vision for a decentralised energy system for Oxfordshire, which is to be powered by small scale, community-controlled renewable energy schemes, and to be connected by a series of smart micro grids.

The team’s new share offer will finance their biggest community energy project to date – a 440 kilowatt (kW) hydro project at Sandford Lock just outside Oxford – as well as a portfolio of 18 solar PV projects on schools and businesses all across Oxfordshire. These 19 projects are some of the last community energy projects in the UK to have secured the pre-September 2015 Feed-in Tariff rate.

With a minimum investment of £250, a maximum of £100,000 and projected returns of 5 per cent, Low Carbon Hub aims to attract both small and large investors to their community benefit society, and both individuals and institutions.

Investors in Sandford Lock Hydro will help return the Lasher Weir to its historic role as a provider of clean energy and power the equivalent of 450 homes – or most of Sandford. The 18 solar PV projects will generate clean electricity on unused roof space, for both the hosts and the national grid. With these new projects included, Low Carbon Hub’s total ‘start-up’ portfolio will save 2,344 tonnes of CO2 every year, and contribute enough clean electricity to power 1321 houses.

Low Carbon Hub is three years into their plan to develop a ‘people-centred’ model of energy generation in Oxfordshire. Their past projects have included the UK’s largest community-owned rooftop solar installation (on Norbar Torque Tools in Banbury), the largest solar installation on an Oxfordshire primary school (at Orchard Fields Community School) and a pathfinding solar PV partnership with Oxford Bus Company that contributed £12,000 in community benefit funds in its first year to an insulation project in nearby Barton.

Every year, Oxfordshire spends about £1.5 billion on energy. That is roughly 10 per cent of the region’s GDP. Almost all of that money flows out of the local economy to the big energy companies that are now mainly owned by foreign companies. Many of the power stations feeding this system are coming to the end of their life, including Didcot power station in Oxfordshire.

Replacing this old infrastructure with a more decentralised system run through social enterprises would keep ownership and revenues from energy generation in local economies, supporting local jobs and the low carbon economy.

Dr Barbara Hammond MBE CEO of Low Carbon Hub, said: “Given the changes in government policy over the last year, we at Low Carbon Hub have had to be very light on our feet and work incredibly hard to secure the pipeline of 19 projects funded by our current share offer.

“With these projects we will be increasing our asset base by 400 per cent and guaranteeing we can have a real impact over the next 20 years, through the deployment of over £3.5 million of community benefit funds the projects will generate.

“We would like as many local people as possible to benefit from community-owned renewable energy in Oxfordshire. Investing in this share offer is an opportunity to do that, while also helping to shape Oxfordshire’s energy future.”

Low Carbon Hub has set out their vision for the use of their £3.5 million community benefit fund in the Low Carbon Hub Community Energy Manifesto. The chapter ‘10- points for change’ outlines what the community energy sector needs from Government to meet the commitments the UK made in Paris last year.

To see projects to be funded by this share offer, or to invest in it yourself, visit the website. Investments are via Ethex, the positive investment platform.

Jonathon Porritt CBE, Co-founder of Forum for the Future said: “Low Carbon Hub in Oxford is one of the most important community energy organisations in the UK. It’s poised to start a real revolution in the way we develop and use our energy.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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