Responding to the climate emergency and reducing fuel poverty will only be solved through communities coming together to share time, experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. CREW Energy is excited to partner with Sustainable Merton on projects within the borough. Below we feature the work of Sustainable Merton and details of how you can get involved.
-Founded by a local resident, Sustainable Merton has been making a difference to sustainable living in Merton since 2007. They continue to inspire, engage and influence local people and partner organisations to be the solution to the issues affecting our environment locally and globally.
Be part of the solution to protect our planet
At a time when concern about the climate crisis continues to escalate, Sustainable Merton's Community Champions are inspiring residents, businesses and key decision-makers across the borough to 'think global, act local' so that we can all be part of the solution to urgent environmental issues.
From reducing our consumption of energy and resources, to valuing fresh, local food and taking action to breathe cleaner air, we aim to influence the changes that will make our borough a healthier, happier and more sustainable community now and for future generations to come. By working together we can make this happen.
Sustainable Merton have a range of fantastic campaigns and regular activities tackling their four member-driven priorities including a plastic free campaign, a clean air campaign with schools in the borough and community gardening days.
Find out more about Sustainable Merton and how you can get involved at sustainablemerton.org.
Last month, we gave a behind-the-scenes intro to our energy cafes. But what does it mean to our volunteers? Here’s a first-hand account from CREW Energy Adviser, Maureen.
Sometimes I am truly humbled by the financial resilience I meet during energy cafe exchanges.
When one is unemployed for a period and managing on Universal Credit before recovering from injury and returning to work, one needs the most amazing skills to prioritise which bill to pay, which friend to tap for a loan, which life-enhancing activity to forego in order to survive, just about.
When in work, it is possible to pay the rent and council tax (a most regressive tax for tenants) with a minimum of juggling and a bit of being behind. Enter a period of unemployment and the debt mounts; paying back even £23 a week(!) of the arrears leaves so little money for the other necessities.
The most efficient and cheapest options are not available to people on very low income. Our energy cafes are a sign of solidarity with our fellows who are not as lucky and a reminder that a run of bad luck, unemployment, injury or illness can easily tip one into financial stress.
Our energy cafes offer advice on energy efficiency in the home, as well as the benefits and discounts available to more vulnerable households.
Electric vehicles have become an important part of both the fight against air pollution and the move to a low-carbon economy, which is essential for reducing the effects of climate change. EVs aim to replace road vehicles, which use internal combustion engines (ICEs), by instead charging a battery which then delivers power to the motor.
The current state of EVs
Currently, the number of EVs (including PHEVs) is 2.7% of the UK’s total market. The UK government’s current plan is to stop selling internal combustion engines by 2040, although recent reports, such as by the Committee on Climate Change, have said this is too late and should be moved forward to 2035 or 2030 to meet 2050 climate change targets.
How do we boost EV numbers?
EV charging is an important part of electric vehicle deployment. Although large amounts of charging will occur at home, there will also need to be EV charging at locations such as offices, and retail and leisure facilities. In cities, a lot of people do not have off-street parking, meaning innovation in on-street charging is also required. One strategy which is often mooted to quicken the adoption of EVs is to try to make EV charging as convenient and quick as possible, aligning with the public’s current experience of refuelling an ICE.
There are three main types of EV:
For further information on EVs, 'range anxiety' and common misconceptions, check out this article.
Do you have an EV? Tell us about your charging experience!
Our energy cafes aim to help people get more value for their energy spend. They are run by volunteers trained in giving energy advice and the concept was part of CREW’s very raison d’être.
We meet at venues where there is a significant footfall and talk people through the process of choosing the best-value supplier for their circumstances. We use the Citizens Advice site to do so. This is seldom a simple process because everyone’s situation is different. The poorer you are the trickier it is to get the best deal.
Why do we offer this service?
It is helpful for people who are anxious about using computer searches to have a friendly companion when attempting to do this. Often complex telephone calls are involved too, so some support is always welcome.
If someone brings their energy bill, we can follow the online system and find a range of options. We are also alert to issues such as calculating length of contract and costs of changing suppliers. This is different from the help people get at the supermarket or on the street, where suppliers are touting for business and the necessary questions don’t always come to mind.
For those with debt problems, we can point them to helpful agencies. We are also aware of the various discounts available and can advise on simple energy-reducing actions to ensure people get the best value out of their electricity, gas and water charges.
All done over a coffee and sometimes even a piece of cake!
Find out more about our Energy Cafés here.
July was a big month for the community energy sphere, with Community Energy Fortnight (22 June - 7 July) and London’s very first Climate Action Week (1-7 July).
Throughout the two-week period, CREW members darted from event to event telling Londoners about our ongoing projects and hearing updates from our fellow community energy groups. In particular, we spoke about our LED lighting project at the Community Energy Annual Conference and attended the London Climate Action Week launch.
We took the opportunity to spread the word on social media but, in case you missed it, below are our reflections on London’s first celebration of climate action.
Sadiq Khan invited a range of organisations working hard to make London a greener, more sustainable city to the launch event of London’s first ever Climate Action Week. Following the Mayor’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year, Londoners have been encouraged to attend one of the hundreds of events around the capital to learn more and take action at a community level to tackle climate change.
CREW Energy attended the reception at the London Living Room in City Hall to hear both HRH Prince Charles and Sadiq Khan make impassioned speeches to move beyond the rhetoric and start taking meaningful action on climate. This was followed by interesting panel discussions from a range of climate activities and sustainability champions on how to lead change at a community, city and national level. We left feeling both inspired and informed, with greater conviction that CREW Energy can play a meaningful role in helping London become the world’s greenest, cleanest, low carbon city.
We've decided to re-brand with a new logo, name and slogan for 2019. "Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth (CREW)" will no longer be the name for the cooperative. As we've developed, both in our internal capability and in response to wider trends in the renewable energy industry, we've developed a capability beyond just installing renewable energy.
We are the first community energy group in London to complete an LED replacement project under a lighting services agreement. We offer a range of technological solutions to help community groups, businesses and home owners save energy and become more efficient. We are also launching a series of energy cafes throughout 2019 to help people reduce their energy bills, make their homes more efficient and lift out of fuel poverty.
Therefore we've decided to drop the acronym from our name and simply become "CREW". This reflects both that we offer more than just renewable energy services, and that we are also not confined just to Wandsworth, but want to work with partner organisations all across south-west London.
So from 2019 we are CREW. With a fantastic new logo thanks to a friend of the group and a new slogan - "Clean Energy - Community Power'; we look forward to going on a journey together to achieve more across a wider swathe of London.
We hope you like the new brand!
In December 2018 CREW were awarded £12,500 by the GLA's London Community Energy Fund (Phase 2) to develop our latest LED and BMS project with Devas Club.
CREW were one of 18 community energy projects that have been awarded a total of £182,000 in this second phase of the London Community Energy Fund, covering projects across 13 different London boroughs. The successful proposals include developing solar projects in time to still benefit from the Feed-in tariff (due to end in April 2019), installing electric vehicle charging points, adding battery storage to solar PV panels or even developing a community off-grid hybrid renewable system.
CREW will now be working closely with the Devas Club to transform the energy performance of the building by summer 2019
CREW have joined up with Devas Club for our next project. CREW will be helping Devas to become a more sustainable centre, saving money on their energy bills and carbon emissions. We will replace all of their lighting to LEDs, similar to our DRCA project, and also instal a Building Management System (BMS) to help manage the energy performance of the centre.
As per our standard offering, we will manage the project from start to finish, providing technical scoping and design, financing and installation support. CREW will be working with Devas to find the most cost effective way of completing the works, with payment made through the savings on future energy bills.
Devas Club is a Battersea institution, serving young people and the community since 1970. They offer a range of services including a dance studio, a recording studio and a silk-screen workshop. The main floor also houses several social areas, a computer suite, table tennis hall and an art room. The upper levels provide a large gym with weights room, and several meeting and rehearsal rooms. There is an enclosed Basketball court on the roof.
By integrating into the broader community young people feel part of that community. A Community Café is run on two weekdays and local groups regularly hire space.
Last weekend saw the UK's solar output surpass all other forms of power generation, equivalent to almost 28% of supply by lunchtime on Sunday.
Data from the government and National Grid-backed Sheffield Solar PV_Live Project shows how renewable energy has become a consistently high contributor to the UK's energy mix throughout 2018.
Have you considered installing solar PV on your household, business or community organisation?
CREW Solar is a group purchasing scheme which gives homeowners the opportunity to install a solar PV system at a discount. Find out more here.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in how CREW can help your organisation generate low cost renewable energy and a range of other measures for saving money, take a look at what services we offer.