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Of course energy is one of the hottest issues we’re facing. We’ve become accustomed to using huge amounts of relatively cheap energy that fossil fuels provide. Now we have to rethink not only how we produce energy, but how we cut down our consumption to a level which we can supply using renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy sources sometimes get bad press because people say they are less efficient and don’t produce enough power. But in terms of a currently-viable alternative to fossil fuels, renewables are the best option we have. It’s up to us to modify our lifestyles so that our energy needs can be met by the power renewables provide.

Wind turbines on a Scottish mountainIn terms of the placing of renewable energy installations like wind farms, we need strict planning controls to ensure that development of renewable energy happens with a holistic perspective of all the needs of people and the environment.

Individual and community energy solutions

Many communities in Scotland are already working to their own emissions through energy efficiency or small-scale renewables development, for example Castlemilk Community Wind Farm and the Isle of Eigg Trust. The Climate Challenge Fund provides grants for communities wishing to do this.

Here are some sources of more information on this subject:

COIN Carbon Calculators

The Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) has produced an online guide to the various carbon calculators which can help you to work out your own individual impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and also will give you an idea of where your community can make savings through energy efficiency

The Energy Saving Trust

Set up by the government to to address the damaging effects of climate change. Their aim is to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by promoting the sustainable and efficient use of energy. You can call 0800 512 012 for free advice on all aspects of energy use and efficiency, including information about grants for householders and communities to reduce their emissions.

Community Action for Energy (CafE)

A project of the Energy Saving Trust. It is a network of people who share a common interest in community energy projects and ideas. Membership of the network is free and by joining you can keep up to date with news on community-based energy initiatives, as well as hearing about funding opportunities, training sessions and other news from the network.

Centre for Alternative Technology

An amazing hub for research and the demonstration of best practice on green building, renewable energy and all aspects of sustainable living.

Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative

Set up to support the development of community renewables initiative, and the installation of household renewables.

Microgen Scotland

This website was established by a group of environmental and fuel poverty groups to push the agenda for microgeneration of renewable energy forward.

Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company

Established by Highlands and Islands Enterprise for all communities across the Highlands and Islands to be able to generate and use renewable energy for their long term and collective benefit.

National and international solutions

Greenpeace UK: the convenient solution

Have a lot of useful information about energy solutions on their website and have produced a lively documentary about the role of decentralised energy systems to revolutionise the efficiency of energy production. It contains great examples of how these systems already work successfully in Scandinavia.

Sustainable Energy and Economy Network

A project of the Institute for Policy Studies (Washington, DC) and the Transnational Institute (Amsterdam), and works in partnership with citizens groups nationally and globally on environment, human rights and development issues with a particular focus on energy, climate change, environmental justice, gender equity, and economic issues, particularly as these play out in North/South relations.

Scotland Against New Coal

The single greatest threat to the climate comes from burning coal. Coal-fired power is the most environmentally damaging means of generating electricity and is historically responsible for most of the CO2 in the air today – about half of all global carbon dioxide emissions. In carbon terms coal is the dirtiest fuel known to man.

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