Monday, 2 April 2012

Brixton could lead the way in community energy

There was a time when it looked as if the Government's cuts to Feed in Tariffs would kill off community energy projects completely. I raised the issue on BBC1's Sunday Morning Live last year, specifically mentioning the impact on projects in Brixton and Streatham.

 It is therefore great to see that the Brixton project has now managed to complete its first installation on the Loughborough Estate, despite the Government's lack of support.

These kinds of projects are vital for a number of reasons, not simply because they provide a sustainable and greener source of energy, but they are also a way of providing cheaper energy and tackling fuel poverty. They also mean more energy security and control for local communities, with more decentralised energy production, as well of course, as providing jobs in the local economy.

Brixton is leading the way on this, with some inspirational people like the Green Party's Duncan Law. But with the cuts to Feed in Tariffs (the money paid for the generation of solar energy) the returns for investors are much smaller, and so it is much harder to get the necessary investment from the local community. There is therefore a real possibility that groups around the country will struggle to achieve what is happening in Lambeth.

The Green Party is therefore proposing to work with the financial services sector to establish a long-term infrastructure investment bond. This could work at a London-wide level to support investment in transport infrastructure, but also support community development organisations and councils to follow suit, so that they can get behind schemes like Brixton's solar project. The establishment of the bond would mean that the Brixton model could be rolled out across the country.

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