Partnering with local schools, businesses and community groups, Low Carbon Hub turns unused roof-space, fields and locks into renewable energy power stations, raising money to do so through community share offers. These investments, they explain, “put ownership of local renewable energy generation in the hands of local people and keep revenues, jobs and community benefit funds circulating in the local economy.” For more information visit Low Carbon Hub’s website.
New Energy Economy (NEE), based in New Mexico, is dedicated to advancing community-based solutions to climate change. NEE takes a multi-pronged approach: they campaign against dirty and dangerous energy sources like coal and nuclear power plants; they promote innovative renewable energy policies to help transition New Mexico towards a new local energy economy; and they install community solar electric systems and energy efficiency projects throughout the state. To learn more, visit the New Energy Economy website.
Our Hamburg, Our Grid decided to bring decision-making power back to the community by ousting energy giant Vattenfall and creating a local power utility that enables the city to provide greener, more reliable and less expensive energy, with greater accountability. To learn more, read this article and watch this short video about a similar successful campaign in Boulder, Colorado (USA). Photo by baden03, ‘Hamburg Rathaus’ (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Puerto Rico has suffered mightily under the neocolonial control of the United States. When Hurricane Maria hit in Fall 2017, it was an unprecedented disaster, but also a unique opportunity for Puerto Ricans to seize local control in the wake of the US government’s neglect. Resilient Power Puerto Rico was founded after Maria’s devastation, and is bringing human-scale solar technology to hard-hit parts of the island by distributing solar-electric power kits, and the knowledge of how to install them. Their goal is for each neighborhood to be self-reliant when it comes to power, and to end the island’s dependence on the top-down fossil fuel economy. Learn about their work on the Resilient Power PR website and this Medium article.
On Samsø, the world’s first island powered by 100% local, renewable energy, success rests on a high level of community ownership and buy-in: more than half of the island’s 21 wind turbines are owned by local farmers, and the entire community collectively decided on the placement of the turbines. Three of the island’s four heating plants run on leftover barley straw purchased from the island’s farmers, and the fourth uses local woodchips and a solar hot water system. The Samsø Energy Academy website has a wealth of information about the project, and this article explores the relationship between Samso’s energy system and its burgeoning organic farming movement.
ME SOLshare builds peer-to-peer solar energy networks, enabling solar panel owners to link up with nearby homes and businesses to trade electricity. Using the principles of swarm intelligence to create resilient microgrids that respond to supply and demand at the village level, the solar networks can scale to include any number of homes and businesses. The microgrids can function independently or connect to municipal grid systems. Learn more about how the system works on the company’s website.
Based in West Java, Indonesia, Sundaya has produced and distributed home-scale solar energy kits to off-grid communities across the world for more than 25 years. The simple 12-volt systems do not require expertise, tools, or literacy to install, and the small scale of the systems frees people from the dangers of high-voltage wiring, from frequent power outages, and from dependence on fossil fuels and on systems that cannot easily be repaired locally. The kits are also designed to teach energy literacy – including the nature of energy, managing electricity production, usage and storage, and mindfulness of resource use. To learn more, visit mysundaya.com.
Vauban is a neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany, that is often cited as one of the best examples of sustainable urban living in the world. Built in the late 1990s on the site of an abandoned French military base, Vauban was envisioned from the beginning as a “sustainable model district,” and built using a mixture of sustainable technology and common sense to serve the needs of both people and the planet. To learn more, visit The World’s Most Successful Model for Sustainable Urban Development?. Photo by Tom Brehm (CC-BY-NC 2.0)