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October 2021    Big Solar Co-op

The Big Solar Co-op is a new approach to subsidy-free community solar, supported by Sharenergy. We’re working across the UK to:

  • Make solar viable on a huge range of sites – without subsidy
  • Empower and support volunteers to work together to get it built
  • Fight the climate crisis through large-scale, grassroots community action

Learn more about how you can get involved or read about the Big Solar Co-op vision and the need for the project.


July 2021     From Skye Climate Action July newsletter

Modular and micro nuclear reactors

by Thomas Prentice

Nuclear power is the source of many controversies. Many people oppose its use due to accidents such as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. These tragic events caused many repercussions in the years that followed. One of the largest effects of these tragedies was that many countries began phasing out or scaling back the use of nuclear power. However, the rapid phase-out of nuclear power was quite detrimental overall in many countries.

For example, after these incidents Germany moved to close many of its nuclear plants, a consequence of this was instead of using nuclear power for electricity, Germany moved to coal power. This was because nuclear provides a steady base-load power to keep the  electricity grid stable, so when this was removed the most viable alternative for the baseload power were coal power plants. In the years following the nuclear plant closures, Germany's carbon emissions increased by 5% while there were thousands of more deaths due to air pollution caused by burning coal in these new power plants. Nuclear may have had a chequered past, but many think we should move past the old way of doing nuclear power, with many now suggesting that nuclear power is vital to us tackling climate change and reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

Traditional nuclear power plants produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity. However they are large, expensive, take a lot of materials to build and produce radioactive waste that must be properly managed and contained. Once they are built they produce low carbon power consistently for many years, helping to stabilize the electricity grid by providing baseload power, allowing other baseload power plants such as coal and rarely gas plants to be closed. Due to the low carbon emissions of nuclear power, many people are trying to find ways of maximising the benefits while mitigating the issues to help reduce carbon emissions of electricity and also reduce emissions in industrial sectors. This is where modular nuclear reactors come in. 

As the name suggests modular nuclear reactors are smaller than regular power plants being designed to be scalable to the application they are being used for. They're also cheaper, easier, and quicker to produce. They produce less power than regular power plants with current designs producing around 45% of the power of small nuclear power plants.   Many designs also claim to be much safer in regards to nuclear meltdowns and passive safety features while also making waste management easier, as all the fuel and waste is contained within the transportable reactor, sometimes for the whole lifetime of the reactor.

Rolls-Royce, backed by the UK government, along with many other groups and companies have been working on bringing these modular nuclear reactors to life. So far they have designed modules that could power a million homes and last for sixty years. Some modular reactors could be small enough to transport by lorry to where they are needed, providing a way to decarbonise industrial sites through electricity and heat generation; they could also be deployed in areas affected by natural disasters to provide easily scalable backup power for communities.It's clear that nuclear power has its problems but these new developments in modular technology could help to power a low carbon future if they manage to avoid the issues and setbacks faced by traditional nuclear power plants. If you wish to learn more about modular and micro nuclear reactors there are fantastic videos covering the topic here and here. A future article will look at covering issues of nuclear waste and production of armaments in regards to nuclear power plants, both standard and modular.


June 2021

Oilfield approval likely despite COP26

It seems likely that the UK government will approve oil drilling and extraction in the Cambo field off Shetland.  Environmental groups have attacked the approval as sending the wrong signals in the run up to the COP26 climate conference, and reducing the possibility of persuading other countries to reduce emissions sufficiently to limit global warming to 1.5C and reach “global” net zero by the middle of this century.

The Times  Wednesday June 23 2021
Oliver Wright, Policy Editor 

Ministers are set to approve a new North Sea oil and gas project months before Britain hosts a global climate change conference in Glasgow.

Under proposals submitted to the government, developers behind the Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of the Shetland Islands expect to extract 150 million barrels of oil — roughly equivalent to operating 16 coal-fired power stations for a year.  Setting up and powering the oil rig will emit more than three million tonnes of carbon over the project’s lifetime.

Read a document transcript  of the website article.

The comments made on the article are notable for their almost exclusively negative tone.


April 2021

UK Government to allow more North Sea oil and gas exploration

Apparently undeterred by the stushie over the Cumbria coal mine, and contrary to the suggestion in mid March on the website'UK considering ban on new North Sea oil and gas exploration' - The UK government is preparing to issue a new round of oil and gas exploration licences for the North Sea.  Instead of following the lead of Denmark and France in banning new exploration licences,

the government plans to introduce a new “climate compatibility checkpoint” to determine whether each application is “compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives”.  

The checkpoint will use the latest evidence for the UK’s domestic demand for oil and gas, the North Sea’s projected production levels, the availability of clean energy, and the sector’s progress against its emissions reduction targets ahead of each planned licensing round.

If the checkpoint – to be designed later this year – suggests that future oil and gas exploration would undermine the UK’s climate goals, the licensing round would not go ahead.

 - Gillian Andrews      The Guardian     24 March 2021


The decision has angered environmental campaigners, who say the government should refuse new licences.  Ministers say permission to drill will be granted as part of a careful transition away from fossil fuels, safeguarding jobs and the economy.  

But the environmentalists say that enough fossil fuels to ruin the climate have already been found.  In light of this, they say, the government should have refused the new licences.  They add that the decision undermines the UK position as leader of the vital UN climate conference in November, known as COP26.

 - Roger  Harrabin       BBC News      24 March 2021


April 2021

The latest newsletter from Changeworks / Home Energy Scotland

includes news of 

'a brand-new partnership with the Social Enterprise Academy that will see us working together to support young people to fulfil their potential in the environmental sector'

and a link to  Scotland’s Green Recovery and Climate Emergency Response: final assessment of progress, published by the Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG), April 2021.

Read the newsletter


March 2021

Government reverses stance on coal mine

Following widespread protests from climate scientists and environmental groups, the UK government has reversed its decision not to call in the planning application for the West Cumbria mine, originally approved by Cumbria County Council last October, which will now be the subject of a public enquiry.

BBC News   15 March 2021

‘Compelling reasons’ not to open Cumbrian coal mine -

Statement by Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is the clearest indication yet of opposition within the government 

The Guardian    17 March  2021


January 2021

New coal mine in Cumbria approved

The government has refused to call in a planning application for a new coal mine in Cumbria Which was approved by Cumbria County Council last October.  Robert Jenrick, the minister  for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the issue should be decided locally, a decision which has angered MPs and environmental groups.

Financial Times  6 January 2021

Environmental campaigners have attacked a UK government decision to permit the country’s first new deep coal mine for 30 years, despite its pledge to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050.  The pit in Cumbria, north-west England, would create 500 jobs in an area reliant on the nuclear industry and seasonal tourism.

But the decision by housing secretary Robert Jenrick to leave the local council to grant the approval, rather than assess the plan himself, is seen by environmentalists as a sign that the Conservative party will prioritise economic growth over climate change as it seeks to cement its electoral gains in former industrial areas of England.

Read more

Greenpeace petition  against the approval

Greenpeace  background  and  other links


February 2021

New bulletin from Community Energy Scotland

CES' February Bulletin contains lots of interesting and useful information on: various aspects of Scottish Government energy policy; a range of community energy projects from the Western sles to Orkney (an Orkney group won a Best Community Project award); funding sources; and a CES video presentation prepared at short notice for Scotland's Climate Assembly. 

Read the bulletin



January 2021

Home Energy Scotland Covid-19 advice and help leaflet

We’re Home Energy Scotland, the Scottish Government’s free energy advice service. We provide impartial advice and support to help people stay warm, make the best use of energy and save money on their bills.

Lots of people have seen their energy costs rise since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re worried about this, we can offer support.

Call  0808 808 2282      or  download the leaflet

And there's a quiz with the chance to win £500!


September 2020

Changeworks Autumn reminder

From Changeworks /Home Energy Scotland  September 2019 newsletter


Changeworks continues to deliver low carbon living across Scotland. Despite the ongoing challenging circumstances, it is vital we still do what we can to support our fragile environment.

To help you get ahead of the autumn chill, we’ve pulled together useful resources to ensure you have a warm home this winter. Download our advice sheet on draught proofing, watch our video on applying draughtproofing measures and read our blog with four easy tips to make your home more energy efficient.


May 2020

Covid19-related news from the Greener Energy Group

The Greener Energy Group are a business engaged in advising on all kinds of renewable energy for the home, and supplying and installing appropriate systems.  Trading somewhat on the Covid-19 crisis, they have circulated an email pointing to the reduction in air pollution resulting from the reduced use of fossil fuels by transport and industry, and highlight this as a reason for installing greener home heating systems such as air source heat pumps.

Read the heat pumps email

Greener Energy Group website


January 2020  Changeworks/Home Energy Scotland  news

Now that 2020 is here, what will you do this year to tackle the climate emergency in your everyday life?  Yes, we need Governments and corporations to do their part, but we all have a role to play in reducing the amount of carbon that we use.  To inspire you, we’ve created blog posts full of practical advice.

  • Four easy tips to make your home energy efficient
  • Top tips to reduce how much food you waste
  • How climate-friendly shopping habits help the planet
  • Going green when getting around
  • A little less meat goes a long way
  • Greening your workplace – it’s easier than you think!

Read the full newsletter  for these blogs and lots of other useful information and links.


From Changeworks /Home Energy Scotland  July 2019 newsletter

Making a house an energy efficient home

Who among us hasn’t fantasised about building our dream house, overlooking the beach, and cutting our carbon footprint at the same time? Well for Changeworks’ Jo Hobbett, Change Works in Burntisland Senior Project Officer, she and her partner Alan made that a reality.

Over the past three and a half years, Jo and Alan have been pouring all their spare time into a new home. Built in the garden of their previous house, an old Victorian tearoom, their new home is an energy-efficient oasis of calm down by the beach on the Fife riviera.

Read the full story


Smart Meters

Smart meter and manualWith funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, we have bought a number of electric “Smart Meters” which are available to lend to householders wanting to use them to reduce their electricity consumption. The meters are loaned out for three month periods, and participants encouraged to share experiences. Participants have found these helped them reduce their electricity consumption by up to 50%. They are currently available for loan at the community markets.
We have also linked up with schools such as Tarradale Primary, who are using the 32 meters we obtained for schools and specially designed work cards to monitor their home energy use as part of their science curriculum – this means many local households each year are using one of the meters to investigate their electricity usage.

We have an anemometer available for anyone thinking of installing a small wind turbine. Contact if interested.

Other ideas

There are any number of the other possible projects, it would be great to hear from anyone with a new idea and some time to help put it into action.


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