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Fracking protest village Balcombe sets up renewable energy co-op



Residents of Balcombe, the quiet Sussex village that shot to fame when a two-month protest against fracking in the area made headlines, have founded their own renewable energy co-operative.

REPOWERBalcombe launched its first project on Thursday, with the signing of a lease to host 19kW of solar panels on a roof at a family-run farm.

The founders of REPOWERBalcombe and their friends will pay the £33,000 needed to finance this pilot installation, with capital repaid in annual instalments.

Investors have been promised returns of around 5% pa over the life of the scheme, though this is subject to rise if the firm is successful in applying for tax relief under the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Grange Farm, meanwhile, will receive 33% discounted electricity for the next 25 years.

The company plans to install £300,000 worth of solar panels on local rooftops this spring. They say this will generate 224kw of PV solar power, enough green electricity to meet 7.5% of Balcombe’s demand.

“We all need energy, but buying dirty fossil power from giant utilities is no longer the only option,” said REPOWERBalcombe communications director Joe Nixon.

“Advances in renewable technology mean that communities like ours can now generate the energy we need ourselves, locally, in a way that benefits us directly instead of big power companies – and helps the environment instead of harming it.

“This is win-win for Balcombe and for the planet.”

The cooperative hopes to finance this first wave of installations through a first full community share issue to investors. Shares can be bought for a minimum of £250, with the controlling investors coming only from the local area.

They say terms will mirror those of the pilot project, while any surplus profit will go towards the co-op’s community benefit fund.

Residents say they came together to form REPOWERBalcombe partly as a way to repair the damage done to their village by the controversy of last year. 

In July, anti-fracking campaigners formed a blockade near energy company Cuadrilla’s exploratory drilling site just outside the village. Over 100 people were arrested, including Brighton Pavilion MP and former Green party leader Caroline Lucas, who appeared in court earlier this week

However, the protestors did not withdraw until October, after the firm suspended its operations at the site.

Activists, environmentalists, scientists and governments from around the world have a number of concerns over the possible impacts of the controversial process. 

It works by blasting rocks with water and chemicals, which then fracture the rocks and release the natural gas contained within them.

It has been linked to water contaminationmethane leakage and increased risk of earthquakes. Investors have also warned that shale gas may prove uneconomical as efforts to curb climate change are increased.

“We’re being told that the only choice we have is being held to ransom by Russian gas or drilling up our countryside for shale gas,” said Leo Murray, senior campaign manager at the climate change charity 10:10, which has supported REPOWERBalcombe.

“But the people of Balcombe are showing us the way out of this dilemma with a different choice – community-owned renewable energy.

“Balcombe’s choice is Britain’s choice. We invite everyone who understands that Britain’s energy future can and should be renewable to back Balcombe to go fossil free for power this year.”

Further reading:

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas appears in court after arrest in fracking protest

Researchers find fracking safety data is ‘sparse’ across Europe

Mass protest against ‘unwanted and unsafe’ fracking to take place

Cuadrilla unveils new fracking exploration sites in Lancashire

Cuadrilla abandons fracking plans in Balcombe


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

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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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey 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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