UK ENERGY PROJECTS MAKE IMPACT AT EARTH SUMMIT
One-third of the world's population has no access to electricity - but
a new website to be shown at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
carries news of possible future solutions to energy supply for those two
The site at www.energyprojects.co.uk, which has been developed by researchers
at the Open University, is a showcase of UK sustainable energy projects
that demonstrate how greener energy technologies are being used. A virtual
exhibition of sustainable development projects, to be broadcast on large
screens at the summit venues, will include the website to bring the UK
projects it features to the attention of delegates who are negotiating
the summit's outcomes.
Site developers hope it will also widen access across the world to information
about renewable energy, particularly where communities are using the resource
The Open University's Energy and Environment Research Unit has been monitoring
the development of small-scale renewable energy technologies in the UK
and the website makes use of the information gathered.
UK energy projects that are highlighted on the site include:
l the first co-operative in the country to own wind turbines - in Cumbria;
l the country's first geothermal school - Charleston Junior in Cornwall
- which is heated and cooled by a system that absorbs heat from the earth.
Prof David Elliott, director of the Energy and Environment Research Unit,
says the website's critical approach is important. m/f
"We believe that it is important for the UK to be able to show that
it has been active in this area, but also important to move beyond a simple
uncritical list," he said. "As an independent university-based
research group, we feel that we are in a good position to produce educational
outreach material that is informative, but does not avoid the problems
and shortcomings that have emerged."
Funding for the website project has come from a grant from the Department
of Trade and Industry and contributions from OU 'green' Energy, a Scottish
& Southern Energy scheme in which the company contributes funds to
the university for use in environmental research projects when its customers
switch to renewable electricity.
The site has been designed by Terry Cook, a visiting research fellow with
the research unit, who plans to develop the project as an educational
resource after the world summit is over.
"Education plays an important role in encouraging participation and
the web is now one of the main ways in which people get hold of information,
" he said. "By linking to community renewable projects throughout
the UK, our aim is to generate both new content and new audiences.
"Renewable energy is the world's fastest growing new energy technology.
There is now 20,000 megawatts of windpower-generating capacity in operation
around the world - the equivalent of about ten nuclear power stations.
But it is also the idea of small new generation technologies meeting local
needs efficiently, often from local energy sources, that could provide
a model for the developing world," he added.
"Sustainable energy projects have sprung up in many countries and
local councils and community groups in Britain have been very active.
The website's database of local projects is a valuable resource that demonstrates
how the development of local renewable energy sources is becoming a reality
Images of both the website and some of the projects it features are available
from Neil Coaten, of the Open University's media relations team, at the
contact details below.
Terry Cook Energy and Environment Research Unit, The Open University
Neil Coaten Open University Media Relations 01908 652580
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