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Peer Mentoring for community energy: So, has it worked?
2nd July 2015
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I blogged a little while ago about the Peer Mentoring Scheme for community energy projects that I helped to design, and which has been run brilliantly by Petra Morris at Co-operatives UK. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken in detail to the projects who have received support from the scheme, as well as the mentors who’ve offered their support, both moral and technical. The results of these conversations, and other outcomes from the scheme, are now summarised in this pretty (and mercifully short) publication that Petra put together. Let me know what you think.

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A new job…. steering the future of energy research
13th April 2015
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I’m really pleased to have been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, as a representative of Green Alliance.

The Energy Programme  invested £625 million in research and skills to pioneer a low carbon future. It’s a joint initiative, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and bringing together the work of five Research Councils, including the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), for whom I’ve served as a Council Member over the past four years.

With massive changes in energy technology, systems and businesses afoot, and ambitious carbon targets to meet, it’s » Continue Reading.

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I love it when a plan comes together: Community energy mentoring in action
4th March 2015
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I had a great time last week at the Powering Up North conference, a Manchester gathering of community energy projects and enthusiasts. It was lovely to see so many people that have been colleagues and allies in my past few years’ worth of work on such an interesting issue.

But what I  really appreciated was seeing the results of something that had been long in the planning. When I started working with Co-operatives UK to support community energy, back in 2010, it was clear that changes to policy and regulation were needed if community energy was to » Continue Reading.

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It’s Freshers’ Week…
30th September 2014
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October 1991. Bryan Adams tops the charts (Everything I Do…) closely followed by The Scorpions with Winds of Change. I’m excited but nervous, in my flowery corduroy trousers (yes really). It’s Freshers week.

Roll on a few years, and here I am again. And while I may not be approaching the extracurricular side of Freshers week with quite such brio this time round, I’m just as excited to be heading back to university.

I’ve spent my working life trying to crack a series of knotty environmental issues, from climate change to chemicals regulation. What I’ve learned, above all, is that » Continue Reading.

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A community energy revolution? Or: can we prove Kafka wrong?
5th September 2014
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One of the great things about working independently is that you only have yourself to answer to. So, while I’m grateful to the brilliant organisations I collaborate with on community energy (Co-operatives UK, Pure Leapfrog, Centre for Sustainable Energy to name a few) sometimes you just want to say exactly what you think, without having to represent anyone’s position.

That’s just what I did at the very enjoyable PoweringUp conference at Oxford Town Hall this week. Inspired (should that read provoked?) by Ed Davey’s declaration that he wants “nothing short of a community energy revolution”, I took his words » Continue Reading.

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Want to buy a wind farm? Now’s your chance…
16th April 2014
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Perched on a fell above the Lakeland town of Ulverston, just down the road from me, are four wind turbines. They’ve been turning steadily since 1997. The turbines all look the same. But one of the four is very different. It was the first in the UK to be owned by local people, who established a co-operative to buy shares in the turbine. The other three are owned by a commercial renewables developer.

More than a decade on, government has realised that it’s really quite a good idea to let local communities buy into local renewable energy schemes. I’ve » Continue Reading.

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Government backing for community energy
27th January 2014
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Community energy is, I hope, an idea whose time has come. I’ve worked on it for a long time: a scary seven years ago, I published this report, Grid 2.0, which argued that the energy system needed to be reshaped to put people at the centre, rather than placing them as consumers at the end of a long chain that starts from distant power stations.

At the time, we didn’t have much of an audience. But of late, it’s become politically fashionable to call for radical reform of the energy market. There are all sorts of reasons why it » Continue Reading.

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Flitting betweeen philosophers and firefighters: The Tyndall Centre’s Radical Emissions Reduction conference
18th December 2013
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I’ve just spent a fascinating couple of days at the Tyndall Centre’s conference on ‘Radical Emissions Reduction’, put together by the redoubtable Kevin Anderson and colleagues.

The idea behind the event was simple: to amass evidence and share ideas on how to achieve a radical cut in carbon emissions, defined as eight per cent reductions per year for the UK. It was resolutely interdisciplinary, with contributions from psychologists, economists, politicians, philosophers, activists and even a firefighter. The range of perspectives was a little bewildering: flitting between light bulb technology and constructivist philosophy induced a peculiar type of brain-ache. But » Continue Reading.

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The ‘penny-drop moment’: Building political leadership for radical emission reduction
18th December 2013
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This is a shortened version of my presentation to the Tyndall Centre’s Radical Emissions Reduction conference, December 2013. There’s a video of the full talk here.

Crossword fanatics call it the ‘penny-drop moment’, or PDM: the moment when a series of jumbled clues falls into place, and the whole picture becomes clear. I’ve seen it happen. At the end of a long question-and-answer session between new MPs and a climate scientist, something clicks. The politicians realise that the development of modern societies, economies, and arguably democracy itself, has only been possible because of a stable climate – » Continue Reading.

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tweet tweet
22nd November 2013
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I really like Twitter. Both for gathering information and opinions, and for engaging people in my work. But it takes a while to get the hang of it. A friend, who’s an eminent academic but is self-confessedly ‘terrified’ of taking the plunge, asked my advice, and this is what I told him. I’d be interested to know what others think: tweet me @bankfieldbecky!

Advice for a twitter newbie:

First, just sign up for an account, follow some people. Trawl through the follower lists of colleagues, friends, people whose opinions you value, and follow who they follow. Try to make it » Continue Reading.