Community energy in Gloucestershire: a resilient future for all
PUBLISHED: 10:35 24 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:30 26 February 2016
We asked Andrew Clarke, director and owner of The Resilience Centre to tell us about Community Energy.
How did you get into Community Energy?
I have worked in Environmental Planning and Consultancy for 27 years on some of the UK’s largest strategic projects. In 2008 I decided to apply my experience and knowledge to helping communities create essential assets to meet future needs. With my business partner and wife Sue we developed our international award-winning Resilient Energy model, working with landowners and communities to create community owned renewable energy projects that distribute surplus cash generated back into local communities. So far we have brought two community wind turbines into operation in St Briavels (in 2013) and Alvington (December 2015) and by the end of 2016 we hope to have a further two community wind turbine projects operating, near Kingswood and another across the Severn near Tidenham, all community funded.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you were at school?
Being brought up in the Forest of Dean in rural Gloucestershire I always had a keen interest in the environment and community resilience, my journey since then has tried to be honest to these values. Who has been your inspiration - both personally and in industry? Personally I was inspired by the naturalist Gerald Durrell, whose books I read as a child. More recently I have been inspired by people like Rob Hopkins (founder of Transition Towns) and friend and mentor Nick Grant of Elemental Solutions.
This is probably a difficult one to answer, but what would be a typical day for you?
A mix of office work, visiting projects, speaking with farmers and communities. I am kept busy overseeing the operating of existing Resilient Energy projects, and also with attracting investors for our latest projects. Currently for our first community energy scheme in Stroud, Resilient Energy Mounteneys Renewables, which will bring social, environmental and economic benefits to Kingswood, Wickwar and the whole Stroud district. See here: www.ethex.org.uk/REMR
If you had to name just three reasons for your success, what would they be?
Fairness, Equality and Dedication to ensuring we leave a better planet for the next generation. We have overcome many hurdles to get to where we are, but ultimately we have found the majority of people are all for what we’re doing and want to help make it happen. The onus is on us all to mitigate climate change and build a clean more resilient future for successive generations. People also support the localism aspect - that the wealth created by the energy generated stays within the local area rather than going overseas.
If a potential investor were deciding whether to invest in one of your projects or a competitor, what reason(s) would you give to choose you?
We are both joint investors alongside community investors and long term project managers, so we always go the extra mile to make sure they are a success. Anyone can visit our website or visit projects we have operating in communities and see proof that our Resilient Energy model works. Our latest share offer, for Resilient Energy Mounteneys Renewables Ltd, raised £853,300 in 18 days, a record for us, and exceeding the minimum £500,250 required to launch this Community Benefit Society in Stroud. Please take time to see what we are about and get involved, see www.ethex.org.uk/REMR - the main stage of the share offer, which closes at the end of February 2016.
Do you have a motto or mantra you live by? No problems, only solutions! What makes you happiest?
Delivering successful projects that give the next generation hope that a better future is possible. What does 2016 have in store for you and the business? Expanding the Business and scale of projects, perhaps even looking at community owned marine energy. We hope to seed-fund many new projects in Gloucestershire, and further our aim of bringing significant social, environmental and economic benefits to the area in which we live and love.