Great Solar Panel Workshop at the Woolley House Undercroft

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We had a fantastic workshop at the Undercroft on Saturday the 9th of July. The participants showed natural talent, flying through the soldering stage of the day at such speed that we were able to make 4 fully working portable chargers in just a few short hours. Everyone who wanted to keep a panel was able to, with one participant taking a panel away to power a water pump at his allotment.

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Martin, our energy utility bills advisor was able to give some practical tips to the participants on how to save money at home and use the right energy supplier for their needs. We also gave away lots of EDF Energy Monitors to help the participants to monitor how much energy they use at home.

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It was a great day out and we look forward to the next one!
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Repowering featured in 10:10’s “Unstoppable” video

 

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Click the image to view Victoria Omubuwajo at the Banister House estate in Hackney, along with Cllr Anna Birley of Lambeth Council fighting for the cause of decentralised energy.

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Power to, for and by the people! Repowering winner of Ashden’s Sustainable Communities award

 

 

Ziggy, one of the Re-Powering interns from the estate. Bannister House was Hackney’s first community solar installation, Banister House Solar, has been developed by Repowering London in partnership with local estate residents and Hackney Council, and delivered using funds raised through a community share offer. The 102kWp solar array generates up to 82,000kWh of energy annually, saving 50,000kg of CO2 emissions. In addition, a portion of the revenue generated through the government’s Feed-in Tariff and sale of energy over the 20-year life of the project will generate over £28,000 for the Banister House Solar community fund. Hackney, London.

Repowering London has won the Ashden 2016: Sustainable Communities award. This is a hugely prestigious prize that recognises Repowering as a game changer in London’s low carbon future. We are immensely proud to have been recognised by the panel and would like to thank all of our fantastic supporters and investors for helping us get this far.

Ashden have created an excellent case study of our work which you can download here.

You can also see our page on the Ashden website along with all the other winners here.

“The pride, hope and community cohesion that Repowering London’s work inspires is entirely unique in the energy sector. The social and economic impacts of working hand in hand with social housing tenants to own and be responsible for their own clean energy are truly transformative” Ashden judging panel

 

Joint winners: Re-powering London & Low Carbon Hub. The 2016 Ashden awards ceremony held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, UK. All image Use must be credited © Andrew Aitchison / Ashden

Joint winners: Re-powering London & Low Carbon Hub. The 2016 Ashden awards ceremony held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, UK. Images taken by Andrew Aitchison

 

 

 

 

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What makes it happen: Leila’s journey to becoming a director of Banister House Solar

 

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What a journey this has been. A journey that I had no idea would encompass so much and

that would go on for so long. A journey that started from the first moment I saw the poster

17 months ago about solar panel installation on the roof of Banister House Estate, to the

recent party with many of the investors celebrating the commissioning of the solar panels.

As more investors began to arrive I looked around at the beautiful tables that Ann (Director

of BHS) and Wilhelmena (fellow investor) had prepared and smiled at the artistry it displayed.

I looked around and felt a sudden upswelling of pride at what we had achieved. A group of

people from different backgrounds and walks of life had worked hard to get to this point,

and I felt privileged to be a part of it all.

 

As Agamemnon Otero (CEO of Repowering London) began to summarise our journey the

investors in the audience nodded with approval and smiled at his enthusiasm. For the first

time I walked up in front of the investors and made a speech without my notes and little

preparation. Caught up in the moment of excitement I spoke from the heart about what the

project has meant to me. I reiterated the importance of community organisations creating a

platform for local people to involve themselves in decisions that affect their community. I

spoke about the importance of providing paid training and work experience for local young

people, which would enhance their skills and add to their CV.

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Asked on the day if it had been difficult balancing the demands of being a volunteer with my

busy work and home life. I had to honestly say yes. It has been hard but worth every minute.

‘I wouldn’t have given so much of my time if it wasn’t something that I believed in’.

Another investor enquired about what I’d like to spend the community fund on. I told him

about the need for a youth club on the estate for local children to attend and participate in

various activities. With the distractions and dangers of local gangs, a safe environment for

children is sorely needed. I could almost see his mind working to envision what I had spoken

of.

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A number of people spoke that day, but the two that stood out for me the most was my son

Jalil and Meg Hillier (MP for South Hackney). I’ve seen my son change from a troubled boy

to a mature young man over the past year and a half. Watching him recount his experiences

and what he’d gained from the internship programme showed me how far he’d come.

When I recently asked him and my daughter Aisha about how they felt about the project

coming to an end, both responded by saying they were a little sad. They’d both participated

in various activities and workshops under the mentorship of Agamemnon, and both felt

they’d learned a lot from the experience. Both expressed an interest in wanting to be

involved in other local projects, something I echoed during my speech. I know that this

project will be a benefit to our estate and want others to benefit from this kind of

community building too.

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It was great to have the support of Meg Hillier who genuinely seemed to support Banister

House Solar and understand the impact such projects can have in local communities. I really

hope that this pilot can be rolled out across the borough. People need to feel that they are a

part of determining their own future and can have a say in what happens in their

surroundings. Young people need to see that they matter and have a voice. This has been a

step forward in helping communities to come together and get involved in making decisions

about their own area. I look forward to working on the next project.

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On a final note, for those of you who were at the commissioning party, you may have

realised that Agamemnon had more to say when he introduced me and spoke briefly about

my journey. When I first started attending meetings, I was in the process of attempting to

leave an unhappy marriage. I had little confidence and self-worth and have since undergone

a tremendous journey that has allowed me to grow not only in my understanding and skills.

But also in terms of myself as a person. Being part of this project has been a positive focus

outside of my family and work, and has given me confidence, self-worth and purpose. I’ve

been able to transfer these into my everyday life, enabling me to take positive steps forward

with regards to my family, personal development and career.

 

So when we talk about building communities, this also includes building the self-worth of

individuals like me, who can now look forward to a brighter future.

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Jeremy Corbyn puts Banister House Solar Interns’ questions directly to David Cameron at PMQs

Yesterday Mr Corbyn brought the day-to-day reality of the FIT cuts directly to the Prime Minister’s attention during PMQs. He spoke of the thousands of jobs that have been lost in Britain’s solar industry as a consequence of reducing the subsidy too harshly and too fast. He also posed questions from Ziggy, Israel and Jay, young people from the Banister House Estate who took part in the Repowering paid internship programme. (Watch the video below)

He said, “I’ve got a question from some apprentice solar fitters at Banister House, a large community energy project. Ziggy, Israel and Jay say that cutting solar tariffs will stop solar projects that they need to protect their environment and give us jobs. They ask the prime minster this: Why do you want to throw all this away?

Mr Cameron Responded saying that “We are doubling investment into renewable energy in this parliament and as for solar panels I think I’m right in saying in the last parliament over a million homes were fitted with solar panels. It’s right that we should go on supporting that industry but we should do it recognising that the cost of manufacturing solar panels has plummeted. Therefore the subsidy should be necessary to deliver solar power, not what’s necessary to pump up the bills of hard-working families”

Voices like Ziggy’s, Israel’s and Jay’s are essential in exhibiting how little Mr Cameron understands the impact of the removal of the Feed-in-Tariff, particularly for community energy projects. Repowering’s projects are not just about renewable energy. We create social energy building valuable skills and expertise within communities whilst also addressing fuel poverty.

Mr Cameron claims to be removing these subsidies to help “hard-working families”. The Banister Interns who benefitted from the Repowering paid internship programme are the children of hard-working families. Community energy programmes like this are providing young people with invaluable technical experience, an income and self-confidence. It is incredible then that Mr Cameron is defending the decision to pull the rug out from beneath the feet of community energy as helping “hard-working families”.

Community energy schemes not only provide social, environmental and financial benefits for local communities but also deliver great value for money as demonstrated in Community Energy England’s impact report. Community Energy schemes such as Repowering’s need the continued support of the FIT in the short-term so we can develop alternate business models without the FIT. It is vital that the FIT and pre-accreditation remains for community energy.

Below is the video of yesterday’s debate. If you wish to add your voice to the argument you can tweet your thoughts here

 

And here is the interns’ original message to the Prime Minister

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