Volunteer with PUNL and join the clean energy revolution – the sustainable New Year’s resolution

PUNL Director Ben Pearce shares his view on why you should get involved with your local community energy project in 2017

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You’ve joined the gym, given up booze, and exclusively eaten fruit and nuts for four days straight, but mysteriously, you don’t feel any happier. Deep down, you know that in two weeks you’ll be in the pub, on your third pint, scoffing some chips. But what if we told you that you could find purpose, could change the world, from within the four walls of a PUB!? How, you say? Community Energy, that’s how!

In the year that everyone is intent on convincing you that it was terrible to be alive, some good stuff actually did happen! For example, PUNL worked with the amazing people at St Anne’s Church and Joju Solar to install 19 kW of solar panels. This was all possible because 60 wonderful people in our community stumped up £30k to pay for the panels, which they will receive back over the next 20 years, with a bit of interest.

However, it is fair to say that this project couldn’t have happened without the core group of PUNL itself. We don’t do it for the praise by any stretch, but the whole group has an immense sense of pride and satisfaction at the way in which we were able to bring together so many people to create something beautiful and sustainable. It’s fair to say nothing beats the feeling of seeing a permanent beacon of hope in your community that you can feel happened as a result of your actions. It really does give you a sense of empowerment when (young) people are increasingly struggling to find purpose in life.

Our core group of 10 or so local residents, working in various different types of jobs. We have been meeting once a month to drive renewable energy projects forward in our community. The motives that we share are:

  • We want to combat climate change
  • We want to do this through positive action and believe in the power of social enterprise to do this; we have a shared ‘can do’ attitude.

It’s been an incredible journey so far for us – there have been multiple times at which it looked as if the one project we have to show for our work wouldn’t go ahead, but we’ve powered through together, with the help of others in our community and I think that resilience is something that we have taken into other walks of life. The other things we’ve done that most of us had never done before:

  • Registered a company
  • Won a £20k grant
  • Raised £30k of community shares
  • Received a round of applause from Ed Miliband
  • Spoken about solar at events alongside founders of well established charities in esteemed venues
  • Won planning permission
  • Formed relationships with local Councillors
  • Starred in a video with a proper camera
  • Been to City Hall

Not to mention developed some wonderful friendships. None of us knew that much about renewable energy before we started, and the way we developed technical and financial knowledge along the way and are now able to share that with others, has been a big personal confidence boost and a great demonstration of what an effective team can do.

There’s so much potential for community energy – our share offer closed 10 days before it was scheduled to and there is support from across our community. In 2017, we have already booked in a number of exciting meetings with some potential new projects, but with our big ambitions to scale up community energy in North London, we could really do with some extra hands on deck in our core group to help us do more. Whatever your strengths, we need help to take on new projects and scale up in the coming year. All that is needed is an enthusiasm for community energy! However we would be especially grateful to hear from people with experience or an interest in:

  • Marketing & Communications / Social media
  • Community outreach and advice
  • Fundraising
  • Property law
  • Project management
  • Renewable energy

As we hope you can see above – it’s a hugely fulfilling and stimulating thing to be a part of and we do hope you would consider coming along to just one meeting to see what you think. If any of these areas (or others) interest you, please do get in touch via email or come to our next meeting in January (we’ll publish the details on the website).

And perhaps you’ll be able to look back at 2017 with pride and happiness – a resolution that will really make you feel better about yourself!

What Next for Power Up North London?

Thank you to everyone came along to our event on Saturday 26 October to explore What’s Next for Power Up North London?

Below are the presentations used on the day and the notes from the workshop groups.
If you would like to find out more about the organisations who spoke at the event, you can visit them online
For a link to 10:10’s report, “Community energy: The way forward” click here
IPPR also produced a report in June on “Community and local energy: Challenges and opportunities” available here 
What happens next?
 
We’re really keen to take forward some of the projects spoken about at the event, including new sites for solar, LED lighting and running an energy cafe to focus on energy saving and tackling fuel poverty. However to do all these things, we will need new volunteers to get involved in our work. It doesn’t matter if you have no previous experience, there are a whole host of things to get involved in. This could be anything from online research, to holding a street stall, to designing leaflets, to getting involved with local campaigning.
 
If you would like to join our core group, which meets monthly, please reply to this email and we’ll send details of the next meeting.
 
If you would like to volunteer time for a specific project or activity, please let us know and we’ll follow up with more details.
 
Finally, if you have ideas for PUNL that weren’t spoken about on the day, or were unable to attend, please do get in touch with your ideas and suggestions any time!

 

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What next for Power Up North London?

Now that our first solar project is complete, Power Up North London would like to invite everyone to a public meeting to discuss: what next?

We’ll be meeting on Saturday 29th October from 2-4pm at Ackland Burghley School to hear from Power Up North London and other community energy projects, followed by breakout discussions where we will be asking everyone to share their ideas for what PUNL should be working on over the next year.

From solar to energy efficiency and LED lighting, there are still a lot of options for community energy despite the changes to Government policy, and we know with the enthusiasm of everyone involved, we can move on with new projects.

Whether you are currently involved with PUNL or are brand new to us, we invite you to join us to share your ideas and help us to move on to the next step of our journey

Agenda:

2pm Arrival

2.10pm Introduction from Meric Apac, Cabinet Members for Sustainability, Camden Council

2.15pm Introductory session: The future of community energy

Speakers:

Power Up North London

Alex Hartley, SELCE

Jesse Scharf, 10:10

Aoife O’ Leary, Pure Leapfrog

3pm Workshop session

This will be a participatory session where groups will choose an area to focus on and discuss in more depth some areas PUNL could focus on over the next year. Speakers and members of the PUNL team will be on hand to facilitate but really this is about everyone bringing new ideas forward.

3.45pm Workshop feedback and closing comments

4.00pm We will be going for a drink to continue the conversation at the Lord Palmerston pub and hope you can join us!

To register for the event please book your free ticket here

All the best,

The PUNL Team

What’s better than a community solar project? A community solar project with battery storage!

We’ve entered a competition from the M&S energy fund to install a battery storage system alongside our panels at St. Anne’s Church. this would allow the Church to use the energy in the evenings too, so we don’t have to sell as much back to the grid.  Please click here and click the “vote for project to win” button at the top of the page to vote and help us take our project to the next level!

Thank you!!! We’ve raised £30,100 to fund solar panels at St. Anne’s Church

Last night we closed our first share offer 9 days early after being oversubscribed. We’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has invested. This means we will be able to install 60 solar panels totalling 19kW at St. Anne’s in September. Find out more about the project here

What happens next?

We have agreed with local installers Joju solar that work will go ahead on the week commencing 12 September, so that we can have the panels connected and up and running by the 29 September deadline.

We will be organising a meetup to view the work being done, and a celebratory drink, during the installation. More information to follow!

All the best,

The PUNL team

Planning application for St. Anne’s Church approved!!

We are incredibly excited to announce that our planning application for a solar project at St. Anne’s Church has been approved by Camden Council!

After initially being told the application may be rejected, we are delighted that the planners reconsidered, taking the social and environmental benefits of the project into account and concluding that the project should go ahead. This certainly wouldn’t have happened with out the 100+ supporting comments we received from people in the local area- so THANK YOU to everyone who commented on the application!

Our next step is to raise £30,000 through a Community Share Offer, allowing you to invest in the project. Learn more and register your interest here

 

St Anne’s Church Planning Application

Our planning application for St Anne’s Church is now live and can be found here, application number 2016/1791/P . We would appreciate it if supporters of the project could comment on the consultation as we want to be sure that there is strong community support before taking a final decision to go ahead with the project.

After being awarded a grant from the Urban Community Energy Fund to cover feasibility costs for one or more solar projects in North London we began speaking to St. Anne’s Church in Highgate who were considering solar panels as part of a refurbishment project taking place at the Church. With the refurbishment the Church hopes to create more space for community activities including the Church’s successful community lunches and a youth project, meaning more daytime use when solar energy can be utilised. Given the potential benefits of solar to the Church and surrounding community we agreed in early 2016 to use some of our funding to explore the feasibility of a 19kW installation on the south facing roof.

Additional aims of the project are to:
• address the challenge of climate change and contribute to locally generated renewable energy for the benefit of the community
• raise awareness of environmental issues within the community
• contribute to long term aims of reducing the need for imported fossil fuel supply, increased local energy resilience, and community cohesion
The installation will provide discounted electricity prices for St Anne’s, which will benefit the funding for activities such as the weekly community lunches, and provide an estimated 16,500 kWh of clean energy per year, equating to 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This will contribute towards Camden Council’s 40% target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

As the Church is listed and in a conservation area, a large part of this feasibility work has been putting together a planning application, which we submitted on 18th March 2016. The visual impact of the panels will be low as the south facing roof is obscured by foliage and buildings from most view points (see below pictures). The roof is most visible from St. Anne’s Close and we will be consulting individually with residents there.

To comment on the planning application, please follow the below steps:

  1. Click the link above or here
  2. Click ‘Add comments here’ in the Application Progress Summary box
  3. Follow the instructions on the next page and ‘Submit’

More information on the project can be found here.

Many thanks for your support!