Leapfrog's most recent seminar explored lessons that UK Community Energy can take from other jurisdictions where there has been a withdrawal of government support or never was any support in the first place.
The event was kindly hosted by Simmons & Simmons and was supported by Scene and we had four speakers who informed, challenged and explored some of the possibilities from beyond the UK with us:
Scene co-Directors Alex Schlicke and Vijay Bhopal to visit Odisha in February to assess progress to date and opportunities for further development of their project to support energy access in this remote rural area of India.
There's a lot of focus on technological gadgetry in the energy sphere. But those fighting the fight on the ground in the world of community energy realise that a lot of the action is to be found in the field of social innovation: new ways of owning the benefits that come from energy generation, storage, distribution and retail, new ways for financing community projects, and so on.
What is social innovation in community energy, were does it come from, and what directs it?
Since our inception we have intended to work throughout the UK and beyond. Whilst most of our work is centred around local energy in Scotland, it has been the intention of our social enterprise to use our skills to the wider benefit of humanity.
When we started Scene there where 1.3bn people in the world that had no access to modern electricity services. That number is now estimated at 1.1bn, with much of that reduction due to rapid electrification programmes in India and China. The World Bank and others predict that due to population growth, the bulk numbers of people without energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, could be approximately equal to today's number in 2030. A scary thought.
A new film, The Solar Fix, produced by the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh based social enterprise Scene shows the scale of the challenge. The Solar Fix journeys into three villages in the Indian state of Odisha, where over 200,000 solar systems have been installed by governments and international NGOs since 2009.
In collaboration with Coventry University, Scene are conducting a longitudinal study of community renewable energy in Scotland. The project is hiring a temporary research intern to aid in the organisation, management and surveying of community groups across Scotland.
A fully funded scholarship for a PhD research on digital finance and sustainable energy in India is being offered in International Development at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with Scene – an Edinburgh based social enterprise that specialise in community energy and ICT.
At Scene we are innovating to try and find solutions to one of these issues; lack of human capacity and effective supply chains for after-sales and maintenance, through our project in India, Urjaa Samadhan. Building on Urjaa Samadhan, we are now looking to work on the issue of access to credit for end-users and small developers, through enabling the ESCo model, with Chile as a pilot location.