Globe Award Nominee

Our Renewable Communities Thesis has been selected as a Globe Award’s Sustainability Research Nominee for 2011

We are very pleased and excited that our research may reach a greater audience as a Globe Award Nominee.

The Globe Awards will be presented for the fifth consecutive time in Stockolm, Sweden on May 12th, 2011. The most innovative prospect and practical projects will be chosen by the jury composed of the top names from the scientific, business and academic world in the area of sustainability.

The decision of who will obtain an award depends on four jury panels composed of highly experienced and internationally recognized experts. The award is given in the following categories:

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Community Renewable Energy Research Contributors

Thanks to all the contributors of our SCRE research:

Sarah Nilsson, Växjö Kommun, “The Greenest City in Europe,” Växjö, Sweden

Per Lundbäck, Municipality of Övertorneå, “The First Eco-Municipality,” Övertorneå, Sweden

Bertel Bolt-Jørgensen, Climate Thy & Mors, Hurup, Denmark

Jane Kruse, Nordic Folkecentre for Renewable Energy, Hurup, Denmark

Preben Maegaard, Nordic Folkecentre for Renewable Energy, Hurup, Denmark

Mikael Kau, Energibyen Frederikshavn, Frederikshavn, Denmark

Rune Schmidt, Energy and Environment Office, Ærø Island, Denmark

Jess Heinemann, Secretary of VEO (Renewable Energy Organization), Ærø, Denmark

Lise Degn, Thisted Municipality, Thisted, Denmark

Leo Christensen, Lolland Municipality, Sealand, Denmark

Simon Kutzner, Stadtwerke Energy Company, Prenzlau, Germany

Herr Stutzke, Stadtwerke Energy Company, Prenzlau, Germany

Klaus, Stadtwerke Energy Company, Prenzlau, Germany

Anonymous, Prenzlau Municipality, Prenzlau, Germany

Birgit Höhne, Stadtwerke Neustrelitz, Neustrelitz, Germany

Herr Haase, Stadtwerke Neustrelitz, Neustrelitz, Germany

Helmut Fries, Burgermeister, Turnow-Preilack Municipality, Turnow-Preilack, Germany

Wolfgang Roick, State Forestry Department, Turnow-Preilack, Germany

Wilfried Rühling, Bioenergiedorf Energy Cooperative, Reiffenhausen, Germany

Wilfried Rühling, Bioenergiedorf Energy Cooperative, Reiffenhausen, Germany

Klaus Christoph, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bioenergiedorf Energy Cooperative, Reiffenhausen, Germany

Anonymous, Burgenland, Austria

Byron LeClair, Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation, Ontario, Canada

Greg LeBlanc, Knowlesville Community Energy Cooperative, New Brunswick, Canada

Neville Grigg, Highlands Social Enterprise Corporation, British Columbia, Canada

Judith Lipp, Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative, Ontario, Canada

Anonymous, BC, Canada

Andrew Moore, T’Sou-ke First Nation, British Columbia, Canada

Lauren Martin, Clean Energy Collective, Carbondale, Colorado, USA

Anonymous, City of Lansing, Michigan, USA

Paul Bradstreet, Margaret River School, Western Australia, Australia

David Wait, Hepburn Community Wind Park, Victoria, Australia.

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Finalizing our Research

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We have just finished a final draft of our Master’s thesis on Sustainable Community Renewable Energy (SCRE) and are currently creating a strategic tool for communities to establish and develop SCRE. We are excited to soon post the finalized tool and start building a community renewable energy resource list with networks, organizations, insightful community connections and inspirational stories to help support more and more community-based renewable energy projects.

Check back soon.

Thanks,

Elsa, Leigh, & Kati

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Renewable Communities Questionnaire


Are you part of a community who is involved in renewable energy? If so, we’d love to hear from you and gather some of your valuable insight on your community’s experience working to initiate, establish and develop renewable energy sources.

Please visit:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/communityrenewablesurvey

To contribute to our research on renewable energy for communities

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Research On-the-Road

We have just returned from interviewing communities involved in renewable energy projects across Denmark and in Northern Germany. It was great to experience first-hand the success stories, innovation and inspiration happening in the many communities and be supplied such valuable information on how challenges were overcome, the motivation behind and the keys of success in establishing community-based renewable energy production.

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Defining Community Renewable Energy

So what do we mean by ‘community renewable energy’?

In the preparation of the introduction and methods for our thesis we’ve spent time reading on each of the components that make up what we consider to be a community renewable energy project. To give you an understanding of our interpretation of the term we’ve made a summary here. Other related labels for renewable energy distributed on a local scale with community involvement we’ve come across are ‘Energy Sustainable Communities’, ‘community-led energy projects’, or ‘community-scale’ or ‘community-based’ renewable energy.

For our thesis, community renewable energy is made of up three important components:

  1. Renewable energy
  2. Distributed energy
  3. Community involvement

We’re also interested in local consumption of energy, and additional benefits for local communities from a renewable energy project in the area

This diagram represents the ‘windmill’ blades of our research interest areas:

Energy can be understood in many contexts, but in this research is confined to electricity and heat.

1. Renewable energy is energy that can be constantly renewed as an energy source as fast as it is used. Renewable energy is sourced from the natural environment, harnessing the winds, sun, waves, rivers and other natural elements and substances. Renewable energy types include:

  • Solar energy: Solar radiation is used for hot water production and electricity generation, sourced through:
    • Flat plate collectors
    • Photovoltaic cells
    • Solar thermal electric plants
    • Passive solar energy used for direct heating
  • Wind energy: Wind’s kinetic energy exploited by turbines for electricity generation
  • Hydropower: Electricity created from turbines fed by the potential and kinetic energy of rivers. In our thesis we only include run-of-the-river hydropower projects that do not require dam construction.
  • Geothermal energy: Heat from within the Earth’s crust, usually turned into hot water or steam to produce electricity.
  • Biogas: Gas produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass from landfills, sewage, or animal waste.
  • Biomass: Electricity or heat produced by burning organic, non-fossil biological materials.
  • Wave/tidal: Mechanical energy derived from tidal movement or wave motion exploited for electricity generation.

2. Distributed energy

Most energy generation is centralized, involving the production of electricity at a large, central facility, the transmission of high-voltage electricity over long distances through the power grid, and the conversion and distribution of that energy to a large number of consumers. Energy may travel many hundreds of kilometers from where it was produced before it reaches the user of the energy. Most centralized production facilities use non-renewable sources such as coal, oil or nuclear material to power their electrical generation.  Significant wastage occurs during the transmission of high-voltage electricity over large distances: losses through the grid can amount to 7% – 15% of generation electricity (IEA 2005).

Our thesis focuses on distributed energy that is generated and distributed to consumers within a geographic locality. Distributed energy generation can be a continuum of energy generation from a household scale to a larger community scale, but this study will not address single building energy generation, but focuses on distributed energy generation that supplies multiple buildings in a community. Some energy may be fed back into the electricity grid, but ideally at least some of the total energy generated is distributed and consumed locally.

Community involvement

The localized distribution of energy has considerable advantages for efficiency and sustainability. But how communities are involved in the initiation, development and consumption of locally produced energy is also important. If energy is produced on a local scale but does not involve or benefit local people, arguably the full sustainability benefits of “community energy” will not be achieved. In terms of achieved renewable energy outcomes, research also suggests that there is a lesser acceptance of renewable energy projects if local people are not involved and benefits are not shared amongst community members.

‘Community’ is a term that has different meanings for different people. In our research, we define a community to be a social group of any size whose members live in a specific place. The term thus relates to geographical proximity, or “communities of locality” (Walker 2008), such as a neighborhood, town, district or city.

‘Community energy’ includes the social process of establishing and distributing renewable energy technology locally, with social and economic benefits to that defined community. Community energy is therefore about the social arrangements around how an important technology that contributes to the sustainability solution is implemented and brings benefit to people.

There are different views on what scale of community involvement is advisable or even possible, and a range of models for how distributed renewable energy projects with some form of community involvement can be designed. In our research we will include a range of case studies with different renewable energy types, geographies, ownership models and types of community participation. But for all case studies selected, communities are involved in some ongoing way with the project, even if local people were not the initiators of the renewable energy project.

Summary:

In our research community renewable energy is defined as a project where a group of people who live in one geographical area are closely involved in a renewable energy project that both supplies energy to that community, and where community members receive benefit from the project in an ongoing way.

What are we not looking at?

The following elements are excluded from this thesis focus:

  • Non-renewable energy (which is unsustainable through its use of substances from the Earth’s crust and its contribution to the systemic build up of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere)
  • Nuclear energy (considered by some as a ‘clean’ energy source given it has no associated greenhouse gas emissions, but not sustainable in our definition given its use of substances from the Earth’s crust and its production of nuclear waste)
  • Distributed energy projects where there is no involvement of local communities members in the project
  • Distributed energy projects where there is no local consumption of the energy that is generated, or no additional benefits of the energy production for community members (such as revenue through selling energy back to the grid).
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We can no longer import our lives in the form of food, fuel and fundamentalism. Life is homegrown, always has been. So is culture. And so too are the solutions to global problems.

– Paul Hawken

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