Living our project mission

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As one of the project partners in AURORA, I am obviously also a citizen myself and thus excited to be one the first participants in the project. It is great, for instance, to test the algorithm we have developed to calculate residential energy consumption, with real data from my own home, and to see my carbon emissions being evaluated.

Still in test, of course, but I used it to evaluate the impact of my existing solar panels and solar cladding against the energy purchased from the Grid. Nearly half of the electricity I used was from the two solar installations on our house. The energy purchased from the grid comes from renewable sources, so I calculate zero carbon emissions should apply to all my electricty purchased, though the calculator did not yet let me claim that.

Cider Orchards

I also used the calculator to review my transport and to see the carbon produced on journeys in my hybrid petrol / electric car compared to my electric car. It really drives home the message that every time the hybrid car is filled with petrol I am in effect adding to climate change carbon emissions. I calculated that when I last refuelled I added 29.21 litres of fuel costing £55.76 which was responsible for releasing 68kg of carbon dioxide. Compare this to the electric car refuelled at home, using solar energy for zero cost and zero carbon emissions.  We can all make a difference and I cannot wait to see where I will sit on the AURORA labelling scheme. 

My name is Martin Brocklehurst, and I live in the Forest of Dean District, one of our five AURORA pilot regions, where I chair the local Kempley Parish Council. Earlier in 2020, we declared a Climate Emergency and put in place a plan to seek to reduce the communities’ carbon footprint. 

As a citizen science pioneer and solar energy enthusiast, it is my pleasure in the AURORA project to coordinate the work package on Communication, Dissemination, and Exploitation. We see AURORA and the Forest of Dean pilot as a great way to reach our goals and reduce our community carbon emissions in line with the Paris Commission targets. 

From work we have done with our community, we know that most people accept climate change to be  real, yet with some uncertainty about the right actions to take. 

A mobile application we are preparing to develop in AURORA, and the Energy Calculator mentioned above, should be of great help to guide other citizens on the best changes to make in their own lifestyle, both to save cash and reduce carbon. 

Wild Daffodil Meadows

We have some great innovators in our community, and we have examples where people have taken the plunge to install solar panels, air source heat pumps and purchase electric cars. We are also seeing our farmers move to renewable energy with one wind turbine and one farm bio-digester producing power for the farm. 

The opportunity to invest in the AURORA community solar photovoltaic scheme will, I am sure, be supported, and it will help us to see how the difficulties can be overcome in setting up community schemes.  We may be able to copy and apply that thinking in our own community. 

What is great is that AURORA should also provide an incentive to 24 Parish Councils across the Forest of Dean to learn from the project’s experience. We already have a Forest Climate Group where experiences on action to tackle climate change can be shared, and in July the Gloucestershire Association of Parish and Town Councils (GAPTC) met for its Annual General Meeting, with Climate change on the Agenda. 

Discussions have already begun to see how the AURORA project ideas could be built into a Climate Change Support Pack that is being developed by GAPTC for all 264 Parish and Town Councils in Gloucestershire. Even more exciting is the possibility that a National Toolkit for Parish and Town Councils being developed by the National Association of Local Council (NALC) could be influenced by our project.  That would have the potential to reach nearly 9,000 Town and Parish Councils in England. 

It is my hope that similar ripple effects will be felt from the other pilot programmes under AURORA in Slovenia, Spain, Portugal and Denmark, and I look forward to hearing all their stories.  ~KGC

Moving to Air Source Heat Pumps

After completing a trial of the AURORA carbon calculator my wife and I decided the time had come to complete our journey in moving all our home heating away from fossil fuels.  With our Calor gas boiler failing our choice was whether to replace it with another gas boiler running on a mix of renewable and traditional Calor Gas  or switch to an air source heat pump.   We have decided to install an air source heat pump, take the £5,000 grant from the UK Government and change the way we heat our home. The new system will be installed in September. It will be powered by solar energy or by renewable energy bought from the National Grid. I will let you know how we get on in a future blog.  We are living the AURORA dream of moving to a carbon neutral future by the actions and investments we make as a family.

Do not be a fossile fool – Switch to solar energy and air source heat pumps to power and heat your homes.

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