Earthsummit 2002 - A guide to UK Local Agenda 21 renewable energy projects. Earthsummit 2002
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Local Agenda 21.

Active solar heating being installed.

Given that LA21 is focused on local community level activities, the sort of energy project ideas that have emerged have tended to concern energy efficiency improvements in housing at the domestic level, rather than larger scale grid linked renewable energy projects.

Even so, there is a significant potential for saving and generating power via small-scale projects. After all in many cases power can be generated from local renewable sources and used locally, without having to endure losses through distribution over the power grid.

Clearly, renewable energy is easier to access in rural areas. However some renewables can also offer significant local level potential in urban environments - the most obvious examples being roof top mounted solar heat collectors and photovoltaic (PV) power systems.

There are examples of both approaches in use in Milton Keynes, where a wide range of energy saving projects has been tested out. Most of MK's houses are built to high insulation standards. And there are nearly three hundred active and passive solar houses, plus some houses with PV cells providing electricity.

The local MEP, Eryl McNally, is a keen supporter of LA21 and renewable energy -
" No matter where in Europe you are, no matter where you are working on LA21, there are possibilities with renewable energy. It makes people think whereabouts energy comes from. It localises it. "

There is an urgent need for practical models which explore the options for 'sustainable development', and especially how this concept can be applied to the places where we already live and work.

Planning for Sustainability

Compared to the scale of the energy problem, small projects like this can seem not very significant, but demonstration projects can raise awareness and stimulate interest in larger scale projects.

As Eryl McNally, MEP, says -
" One of the most important things it can do is to wake up ordinary people in their locality so they see what is happening. Its all very well grand projects going on hundreds of miles away but it's when you see in your neighbourhood that you can contribute that the sort of awareness we need to begin."

© Ambit Interactive 2002
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