A new Social Enterprise has just be started…. "Demand Energy Equality" building solar panels with low income households here in Bristol. We are trying to raise £25,000 through peoplefund.it the project is here… www.peoplefund.it/demand-
- 1) To reduce the cost of solar panels and enable low income households to gain access to empowering solar PV technology as there is a growing divergence between those who can afford renewable power.
- 2) To utilise the potential these technologies offer in reducing household energy demand. Energy demand reduction is possible when people have a greater understanding and relationship with these technologies.
We run DIY solar panel workshops with low income households and teach workshop leaders the skills to go out into their communities to run their own workshops. We are about teaching the skills and knowledge so people can then build themselves more panels, in doing so empower and power themselves.
The Feed-In-Tariffs are enabling households to buy solar panels, this market has seen huge growth. With a few exceptions such as particular social housing projects and the so called "rent-a-roof" schemes the majority of panels have been put on societies more affluent houses. The workshops help other households access solar panels at less than half the price of the cheapest commercial panel, helping to address the growing social inequality in access to affordable clean power.
Secondly, SOLAR PANELS ARE NOT A SOLUTION. This might sound mad coming from a project that is encouraging people to buy solar panels. But without huge reductions in our demand for energy the challenge to meet climate change CO2 reduction targets will be impossible to solve. This is in part because solar panels will only every supply a fraction of our current energy demands. Furthermore if households understand how to use energy and what energy is they will shield themselves from rising fuel costs. Solar Panels have the potential to be hugely educational. By building a panel in a workshop and learning how to manipulate circuits, power and energy are much more tangible concepts. Because the panels are not Feed-In-Tariff certified they cant be used to generate money by exporting to the electricity grid. This means people must learn how to connect the panels to their homes and use the power within their homes. The combined effect of making something and using it within your home means a far greater understanding and respect of energy is achieved, leading to reducing demand. Think about it, power comes to you from big power stations… how tangible and understandable is that? Commercial solar panels; someone puts it on your roof for you and its made in a factory, then you stare up at it for a few months then forget about it.