Tuesday, 25 June 2019
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Islands at the forefront of energy transition and decarbonisation of economies - Speech by Cllr Andrew Cooper 18/6/19
I’m going to show you a model island community, with well insulated homes, that are heated by renewable energy and where all the food is sourced locally complete with composting toilets
This is Skara Brae on the Island of Orkneyl in Scotland last occupied around 4500 years ago and by all accounts this Neolithic village must have had a pretty good lifestyle with easy access to the sea for fishing, and cosy earth sheltered homes that probably have better thermal properties that some homes that people live in in Europe today. Now I am not for a second suggesting that an energy transition means going back to some mythical prehistoric golden age but that the same issues which islanders of millennia gone by faced are still relevant to the energy transition we are seeking today, the wealth of natural resources, the independence of spirit and a desire to be separate from the mainland make them often enthusiastic partners in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Today’s Orkney is still a leading Island in the renewable energy
revolution but it is wind turbines and wave and tidal power that are the fuel and they now produce 120% of their electricity needs from
the environment around them.
The EU has funded the Clean Energy for Islands Initiative to support energy transition in islands and to use them as testbeds for the Clean Energy Transition more generally.
Why islands? – Fossil fuels can be expensive to transport and energy connections to the mainland can also be prohibitively pricey. Using locally sourced renewable energy reduces dependency on fossil fuel imports. Islands by their nature are close to the sea and could take advantage of wave and tidal power and of course wind and solar energy just like anywhere else.
Specialist skills in maintenance and management may not be easily available but large scale renewable energy installations can give new opportunities for locals not just in installation but also in the repairs and ongoing maintenance that all energy systems require. So the same boats which may be used for local fishing and providing support to oil platforms may be the same ones that provide maintenance to offshore wind turbine installations and even tourist trips to see these massive wonders of engineering close up.
Clean energy transition in small/medium island is a complex issue due to geographical boundaries, the condition of the energy network, the cost of the fuels to be imported, the difficulty in reaching critical mass and economies of scale.
We have to recognise that the size of some islands make economies of scale for significant capital intensive energy generation prohibitive which is where EU funding can help and be deployed appropriately to pump-prime renewables that provide a sustainable future for the communities they serve
These factors need taking into account and we need to make the most out of the strong sense of belonging that can characterise many island communities so community ownership and community share offers for renewable energy technologies fit well with the psyche of islanders who have the means to participate but also offer opportunities for publicly owned energy generation by the Local Authorities and Councils responsible for public services.
The quadruple helix approach is critical where public services, industry, academia and crucially citizens are directly involved in reaching solutions that fit best with an islands approach that can be tailor made to meet their energy needs that also utilises the abundant resources around them.
It is of course a good thing to help islands achieve a decarbonised economy but what we learn in the process will inform how we approach decarbonising mainland communities more widely on the mainland as well because ultimately we all live on an island.
Monday, 17 June 2019
Open letter to Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority - Will the WYCA declare a meaningful declaration of a climate emergency?
To members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Many councils in the Leeds City Region have declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. This follows the stark message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have only 11 years to bring our greenhouse gas emissions down to levels that will keep the global temperature rise to a survivable 1.5%. This clear warning requires action from every level of government including the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).
WYCA is responsible for significant investment in activities that promote economic activity, including the Leeds City Region Local Growth Deal. WYCA has a strong focus on ‘Inclusive Growth’, but will the economic activity we generate be both economically and environmentally sustainable? Can we demonstrate that all the activity that WYCA generates will reduce emissions? Can we demonstrate by how much? Can WYCA demonstrate how it will use its leadership role to reduce emissions amongst its partners in the region?
Currently there appears to be no rigorous assessment of the impact on greenhouse gas emissions of the decisions of the Investment Committee. In our opinion, given the significant funding of transport and road schemes by the Investment Committee, a full climate impact assessment should be produced for such projects before decisions are made to proceed with them or not.
We are, of course, aware of the valuable work being carried out by the Leeds City Region Green Economy Panel; but we need to look at all the activity being generated by WYCA in totality to ensure it has a positive impact on climate emissions and one that is consistent with the COP21 Paris Climate Goals.
Cllr Andrew Cooper – Kirklees Council
Cllr Karen Allison – Kirklees Council
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards – Kirklees Council
Cllr Ann Forsaith - Leeds City Council
Cllr Anne Blackburn – Leeds City Council
Cllr David Blackburn – Leeds City Council
Cllr Kevin Warnes – Bradford City Council
Cllr Martin Love – Bradford City Council
Cllr Andy D’Agorne – York City Council
Cllr Denise Craghill – York City Council
Cllr David Taylor – York City Council
Cllr Rosie Baker – York City Council