The workshop, at the Greenhouse, Annfield Plain, was split in two parts. The morning featured presenters from Community Energy England, Northern Powergrid, Durham Energy Institute, Durham County Council and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NE LEP) and was open to all community groups in the region. They focused on discussing current working projects, sharing best practice with the community and addressing current energy challenges.
Anda Baumerte, from Northern Powergrid, said: "It’s encouraging to see so many people interested in tackling the climate emergency, and I hope we can maintain this momentum. Northern Powergrid we’re the first district network operator (DNO) to establish a dedicated fund to help local community energy groups access funding. We’re just about to launch a Community Energy Engagement Strategy which will hopefully support a further growth in community energy sector across Yorkshire, north Lincolnshire and the North East."
Jacki Bell from Durham Energy Institute said: “The North East traditionally has the lowest take up in community energy projects, and this workshop was a joint effort to change that. We’re really grateful to all of the partners for presenting and providing support on the day, and thrilled by the interest.”
Emma Bridge, Chief Executive of Community Energy England, said: “The feedback was positive with many saying it should be an annual event. It was great to discuss the need to decarbonise our heat demand as electricity is always the focus when we talk about greening energy. We need to think more broadly, particularly as Climate Change Action becomes more of an accepted priority. It was a great day full of genuine enthusiasm."
In the afternoon the workshop focused on providing support to those groups who are developing projects, covering a wide range of technologies from home energy efficiency retrofits, solar panels, ground source heating, as well as minewater and river source heating. Josh Sawyer, Rural Energy Officer for the North East LEP was on hand to discuss how feasibility studies for these projects could be funded and representatives from Durham County Council’s Low Carbon team were able to gather information on where they could support residents into a greener future.