CAT’s Paul Allen joined the International Network For Sustainable Energy (INFORSE) in Denmark to share the latest Zero Carbon Britain research on a global platform. The 25th anniversary meeting brings together organisations from across the world to explore the transition to sustainable energy, community power and the development of new initiatives and projects.
CAT has been an active member of INFORSE for 15 years, united on a common strategy of the phasing out of nuclear and fossil energy. The network facilitates the exchange of experiences on both the practical and the political, working together on projects to help push for greater ambition at the UN climate change summits. INFORSE also lobbies across the EU to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency – with a key focus on decentralised, community-based approaches. Biannual general meetings such as this, are the foundation of the network’s democratic structure, with passionate discussions around actions, plans and initiatives.
A meeting place for forward thinkers: Formed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, INFORSE has more than 145 member organisations worldwide, including 85 members from 35 countries across Europe. Its aim is to enable the implementation of sustainable energy solutions, by offering information, building awareness, lobbying of international forums, backed by a range of regional on-the-ground projects.
This year’s meeting was hosted at CAT’s long-time sister organisation the Nordic Folkecentre for Renewable Energy. For 34 years, it has been a test-bed for emerging technologies and a learning centre, focusing mainly on small wind (up to 50kW) and biogas from local farming sector, but also PV and energy storage. They also run centres in Mali and Uganda. With its key university partners, the Folkecentre offers a demonstration site running entirely on renewable energy, with thousands of visitors every year, exploring the integration and implementation of solutions in the areas of energy, water and food.
I was very taken by their ‘history displays’ telling the story of the development of renewable technologies over the past 125 years. The timelines are explored through a range of display panels, but also through many real-life antiques, from early wind turbines to electric cars, carefully preserved and interpreted for future generations. The Folkecentre team’s current focus is on developing replicable, open-source, control systems for stand-alone off-grid 220v solar, aiming for systems up to 5kw, as well as expanding their test-station for small-scale wind.
Their message seems to have spread – backed by Denmark’s target for 100% renewable energy by 2050 and 50% by 2030, the 45,000-people living in the local municipality now also run on 100% renewable electricity and on 87% renewable heat.
My Zero Carbon Britain presentation was well received, with many enthusiastic questions. It was followed by scenarios from France, Ukraine, Armenia, Macedonia, Belarus, Serbia and the Danish Island of Samso – an excellent opportunity to share experiences and work together towards global solutions.
Another core focus of the event was an exploration around how we can scale-up ‘community power’. The Paris Climate Agreement confirms that there has to be change; even the large corporations know this, but communities across the EU need to be pro-active to ensure that this once-in-a-generation change maximises benefits for citizens. Community power creates new coalitions that accelerate change, it directly improves lives, and it transforms energy systems from sucking money out of communities to actually blowing money in…
The international perspectives available at the conference demonstrated to me how quickly things are now moving in terms of climate solutions and how many new models and scenarios are currently under development. At the close of the meeting, INFORSE agreed to utilise its cross-border connections to support CAT in developing and up-dating our ‘Who’s Getting Ready for Zero’ report, to help feed solutions and ambition into the UN COP process.
Paul Allen, Zero Carbon Britain Coordinator
Paul Allen is Project Coordinator for the Zero Carbon
Britain research and communications programme at the
Centre for Alternative Technology. As an electrical and
electronic engineer, he helped develop CAT’s commercial offshoot, Dulas Ltd, a world-renowned renewable energy company.