In the Forest of Dean, we have established the ‘Forest Energy Community Initiative’ a network and community of people who want to reduce carbon and promote renewable energy in the district. A small working group meets every two weeks to not only support and help implement the community solar installation planned in the town of Lydney, but to also be ambassadors for community solar projects district wide. This energy community has compiled a list of potential buildings for the next community solar energy projects. Many owners and trustees of a range of village halls, community centres, rugby clubs and other community buildings have expressed an interest in carbon reduction via roof top solar PV.
The Forest Energy Community Initiative is also helping design the solar array specification for the Lydney installation, gaining skills via specialist training in solar design software. The energy community will also play a role in spreading the word and promoting the community share offer and the carbon footprint mobile phone app.
We asked our energy community members about what should feature on a civic road map for sustainable action in the Forest of Dean. As a municipality, an emphasis on home energy for residents is important. This includes information sharing and learning about energy reduction, renewable methods to power and heat domestic properties and retrofit measures to improve home energy efficiency, such as insulation, replacement windows and updating heating systems to, for example, air source heat pumps.
Our energy community would also like to make an impact on developing collective buying schemes for domestic roof top solar PV, working with partners to improve the quantity of public electric vehicle charging points around the district and as a longer-term aspiration, to achieve more community owned wind turbines in the district.