Power to the people: Hugh explains why it's time to generate your own renewable energy
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall shows you how to go green with solar panels and wind turbines. He explains why he's encouraging people to set up their own eco-friendly community groups and apply for funding.
Energy, power, electricity - call it what you will - is central to our lives. And the way we generate it is a major environmental issue.
At River Cottage, we’re working hard to power ourselves in the most sustainable way possible. We have solar panels and a wind turbine and I get a great sense of satisfaction from them. On blowy days, it’s good to know that our laptops and fridges are ticking along without needing to draw on some distant coal-fired power station.
But it’s easy to feel daunted by the idea of changing to cleaner, greener sources of energy. That's why I'm part of Energyshare, an initiative which helps communities switch to power from renewable sources - and even generate power themselves.
Through schemes like Landshare, I’ve seen how effective grass-roots community action can be. Energyshare is an example of what’s possible. Some of the successes are already chalked up are on a grand scale: like the University Hospital of South Manchester – officially Britain’s greenest hospital – which has cut its energy use by 26% and is now generating some of its own power. There’s a Mid Argyll community swimming pool currently being heated solely by renewable energy via a bio-mass boiler. And a Bradford BMX club who saved a huge amount of money by generating their own electricity. They can now floodlight their track at night, extending the benefits they’re offering local youngsters. There are schools, sports clubs, pubs, hospitals, village halls, churches and residential streets all getting involved.
Energyshare is not just about saving money – it may even help you make some! Energysharers can benefit from a ‘feed-in tariff’ (FIT). This government money rewards people who generate their own renewable energy. Energyshare calculates that UK schools could raise around £20 million annually by installing solar panels.
If you don’t feel ready to start looking at biomass boilers yourself just yet, you can spread the word so others take advantage of this fantastic scheme. Energyshare’s giving away hundreds of thousands of pounds to groups across the UK. Tell a friend - and you could make an enormous difference to people who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint.