The Rose Hill Energy Revolution

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Rose Hill and Iffley are on the brink of an energy revolution. On 3 June, we moved a bit closer to our goal of a zero-carbon community when forty people attended a film and discussion evening at Rose Hill Community Centre. Our aim was to learn from other successful local energy projects and to generate ideas for our neighbourhood.

Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon: The Background

We are one of more than sixty Community Action Groups (CAGs) in Oxfordshire. The CAG Network helped us to start the group and continue to give us invaluable advice as we grow. We could not exist without their help. Over the past three years, we’ve been working to enable Rose Hill and Iffley both to power up and to power down.

Powering Up

In terms of powering up to renewable energy, we’ve successfully lobbied to get the City Council to cover the new Community Centre in PV and to bring Project ERIC to Rose Hill. This project has installed solar PV and cutting edge battery storage in 77 Council and Housing Association homes. It has also installed four batteries in the Community Centre and eight batteries in owner-occupied houses that already have solar PV. Soon our local primary school will get 108 solar PV panels through the Low Carbon Hub. Our present campaign is to crowd-fund a zero-carbon classroom for the school at https://hubbub.org/p/classroom-of-the-future/ 

Powering Down to use less energyHH

In terms of powering down, we’ve thermally imaged the school and a hundred houses in the area, following up with two advice sessions on how best to insulate local houses. The evidence of the thermal images enabled the school to campaign for proper insulation. This winter, we’ve been working with the City Council to publicise their Affordable Warmth campaign. Over the past three years, we’ve also run a number of recycling events like swap shops and electrical goods collections. We’ve planted 200 trees on the recreation ground and organised a free cycle repair workshop from Broken Spoke. Another is planned on 6th August.

Why do we do this?

As well as running events to help people lead a sustainable life, we think it’s important to discuss WHY we need to do these things. Though most people have other things on their minds than climate change, we believe it is one of the biggest problems of the 21st century. In 2014, we invited Climate Outreach to run a workshop on Flooding for us. In 2015, we showed the film Voices of Transition and in March 2016 we showed the film Merchants of Doubt. Our film and discussion evening on 3 June was another step on our path.

We had a wonderful evening and it stimulated a lot of discussion. We started off with a low-budget documentary about community renewables in Germany. If you didn’t get along, or want to watch the whole film, you can find it online (in short episodes) at https://vimeo.com/album/2464396.Here’s a short synopsis of the four excellent talks that followed:

Barbara Hammond outlined the Low Carbon Hub’s work in installing renewable energy across Oxfordshire, stressing the importance of renewables to the economy and employment. She focused on the two projects local to us: Sandford Hydro, which will be the biggest hydro project on the Thames, and the 108 solar PV panels planned for Rose Hill Primary School. Read more on Low Carbon Hub.

Professor Rajat Gupta summarised Oxford Brookes University’s evaluation of local renewable energy projects across the UK and, in particular, of our own Project ERIC in Rose Hill. He stressed the wide range of households involved and the positive responses from the vast majority of residents.

Tim Sadler, speaking on behalf of Oxford City Council, said it will be difficult to realise its ambition to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 (from a base of 2005), given recent government cuts. However, OCC is working to cut carbon in a variety of ways. His advice to us in Rose Hill and Iffley is to build on our reputation and to keep positive!ss the UK and, in particular, of our own Project ERIC in Rose Hill. He stressed the wide range of households involved and the positive responses from the vast majority of residents.

Andy Edwards, speaking for Project ERIC and BioRegional, reminded us of the key reason why we are pushing for a shift to renewables – that is, to mitigate the increasingly swift impact of climate change.

(In case you would like the presentations and visual resources the speakers used during the session, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon)

 

As we move towards consultation with the community on the future for renewables locally, we hope you will share your own ideas with us. We have recently won a grant to enable BioRegional to research further possibilities for renewables in Rose Hill. So your ideas will be welcome. Please write to us or come and add them to the flip charts and maps that will be on display at the Rose Hill Extravaganza (12-3 pm on Sat 16 July) and our Swishing and Cycle Repair event (10 am to 1 pm on Sat 6 August).

 

Eleanor Watts

Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon

facebook.com/rosehillandiffleylowcarbon