Friends of the Earth Europe gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the European Union and The Council of Europe - European Youth Foundation. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of Friends of the Earth Europe and cannot be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union and The Council of Europe - European Youth Foundation. The European Union and The Council of Europe - European Youth Foundation cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information this website contains.
Scotland: Community Solar Co-operative
"I have been campaigning against nuclear power since 1975, and worked as an anti-nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace for 13 years until 2004, but still work mostly on nuclear issues as an independent consultant. After working on some very depressing reports for Greenpeace after 9/11 about the impact of an airplane crash on Sellafield I decided I needed to spend some time each week working on something a bit more positive."
The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative was launched in September 2015, and aims to raise £1.4m from people in Edinburgh to put 1.8MW of solar panels on 25 schools, community centres and sports halls, all owned by the City of Edinburgh Council.
It will be the largest community-owned urban solar scheme in the UK and will save the city about 1000 tonnes of CO2 a year and over its 20-year life. It also aims to put about £1 million into a community benefit fund to help with insulation and renewable energy projects in Scotland.
We spoke to Pete Roche, involved in the project, before the launch of the co-operative in September.
How has the project affected you personally, your family and your community?
It has actually been quite a struggle to get something off the ground. In a previous incarnation as Edinburgh Community Energy Co-operative we first tried to get a CHP-District Heating Scheme off the ground and then tried to persuade community centres and churches to install solar panels. Neither got very far.
Who else is involved?
Unlike many community energy projects which are located in a small community various different people have been involved from across the City of Edinburgh, often with some kind of relevant expertise.
Are there any particular tactics you are using/ have used to move the project forward? Do you feel like you are making progress?
We have had to develop projects which fit in to a structure suitable for applying for funding according to what is available. We learnt a lot by inviting other co-operatives across the UK to come and speak to us.
Do you have the support of the local community?
We have the support of the managers of the buildings we will solarise and will build wider community buy-in when we launch.
What are you aiming to achieve / what is your vision for the future?
Naomi Klein puts it better than I can in her latest book “This Changes Everything”“…climate change represents a historic opportunity [we] have the chance to advance policies that dramatically improve lives, close the gap between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up. [We] can disperse power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it in the hands of the few …[and this] would leave us with both a more habitable climate than the one we are headed for and a far more just economy than the one we have right now”.
Do you have a view on the links between your initiative and climate change? Do you see a link to the UN “COP21” climate talks in Paris?
Paris is crucial, but I have two grandchildren. They have been talking for all of their lives and most of their mother’s. It’s time to act.
What do you hope/expect/fear for the future?
If we solarise 25 of the Council’s buildings – hopefully the other 600 will also get done later.
Do you have a message to other communities thinking about starting an urban community energy project?
There is a lot of help and experience out there now. You don’t have to feel like you are on your own.
If you have a message for Friends of the Earth supporters what would it be?
Find out the barriers in your local area and get them removed e.g. where I live it is shared ownership of house cavities and roof-space and too many private landlords preventing insulation and solarisation.
Is there anything Friends of the Earth supporters can do for you?
Help us promote the share offer.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Find out more about the project: www.edinburghsolar.coop