If Chalford is serious in trying to get to zero carbon by 2030, this is a real challenge. We’ve done some number crunching and calculate that our parish emits about 36,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. There are only a few ways to reduce this.
One way is to cut down our own emissions. Lift-sharing, installing better insulation, repairing and buying second hand, better use of allotments – these are some of the things we are looking at. If we can get most of the village to engage with our ideas we think we could reduce our emissions by 30%. That brings us down to 25,000 tonnes of CO2.
We can plant trees, but we’d need a forest many times the size of the parish to significantly reduce our emissions.
The other way is to generate renewable energy. In Chalford that means solar power or wind turbines. Installing solar panels on half the houses in the village, and building a solar farm three times the size of France Lynch Pleasure Ground, would offset a quarter of our remaining emissions. To offset the rest would need either a huge solar farm – 160 acres – or three very large wind turbines. Or a mixture.
Chalford could be self-sufficient in electricity within a decade if we took collective action. Community-owned generation schemes are being actively considered by ChalCAN. Whilst the logistics for a scheme like this are challenging with planning and financial hurdles to overcome, wind and solar schemes offer the only way for the parish to become truly carbon neutral. In principle it would be possible for us to offset 100% of our emissions.
Potential sites around the perimeter of the parish can be explored. There are grants available to establish viability of such schemes, but otherwise the capital would be raised by a share issue, and the financial returns for shareholders are likely to be attractive. As a community-owned resource it would then generate funds for local projects. A key initial factor is demonstrating community backing for such a project. So if you’d like to register your support, or to find out more, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are local examples of a community energy generation projects