Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

UK Town Quits Fossil Fuels and Starts Renewable Energy Co-Op

Energy
UK Town Quits Fossil Fuels and Starts Renewable Energy Co-Op

Once a sleepy village in West Sussex, last summer Balcombe became synonymous with the UK’s fight against fracking as the residents found themselves host to riot police, protesters and TV crews.

Now the residents of Balcombe are going a step further, with the aim of putting the village on the map for all the right reasons as they quit fossil fuels for solar energy.

REPOWERBalcombe’s cofounders celebrate with friends, family and supporters at Grange Farm—their first confirmed solar site. Photo credit:
Back Balcombe

Once at the centre of the UK’s wave of new oil and gas drilling, the residents are now turning away from dirty energy as they form their own renewable power co-operative, REPOWERBalcombe.

The goal: produce enough clean, homegrown electricity to match the needs of every home in the village.

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

For the first phase of the project, the group aims to install around £300,000 worth of solar panels on the rooftops of local buildings this spring with the aim of producing 7.5 percent of the village’s needs.

Celebrating the launch of the project, the group signed a lease to host 19kW of solar panels on the roof of a cow-shed at nearby family-run Grange Farm. In exchange for hosting the panels, the farm will receive 33 percent discounted electricity for the next 25 years.

Talks are also underway for another five sites in and around Balcombe.

Each project is expected to deliver at least five percent return to investors during the 20-year lifetime of the scheme, while any profits will be ploughed into a community benefit fund.

The project has been welcomed by environmental groups, who are keen to support this infamous village take back control over their energy supply.

“People don’t need to accept risky fracking on their doorsteps,” Brenda Pollack, campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “It’s great to see community energy initiatives like this that enable local residents to produce their own clean and safe power, and earn themselves an income too.”

10:10 are also helping to support this “bold” and “brilliant” plan, launching a national project supporting people to “Back Balcombe.”

“People don’t want fracking, but they are being told there is no alternative if we want to keep the lights on and have secure power supplies," Leo Murray, community energy campaigner at 10:10. “Well there is—Balcombe is sending a clear message that whereas fracking has to be forced on communities, they chose clean renewable power.”

The project aims to give a megaphone for their plans and providing people across the UK with a chance to invest in them, and help them meet their ambitious plan of being powered fossil free.

Related Content:

1,000 March at Largest Fracking Protest in UK History

UK Proposes to Frack One-Half of Great Britain 

Protestors Block Fracking Site With Giant Wind Turbine Blade

On Thursday, Maryland will become the first state in the nation to implement a ban on foam takeout containers. guruXOOX / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Maryland will become the first state in the nation Thursday to implement a ban on foam takeout containers.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A sea turtle and tropical fish swim in Oahu, Hawaii. M.M. Sweet / Moment / Getty Images

By Ajit Niranjan

Leaders from across the world have promised to turn environmental degradation around and put nature on the path to recovery within a decade.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke from the Glass Fire rises from the hills on September 27, 2020 in Calistoga, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Just days after a new report detailed the "unequivocal and pervasive role" climate change plays in the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, new fires burned 10,000 acres on Sunday as a "dome" of hot, dry air over Northern California created ideal fire conditions over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
Sir David Attenborough speaks at the launch of the UK-hosted COP26 UN Climate Summit at the Science Museum on Feb. 4, 2020 in London, England. Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool / Getty Images

Sir David Attenborough wants to share a message about the climate crisis. And it looks like his fellow Earthlings are ready to listen.

Read More Show Less
People walk down a flooded street as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Kevin T. Smiley

When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.

New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch