By Amelia Crews, an Energy Innovation Co-ordinator at Midcounties Co-operative.
‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’
Hi, I’m Amelia – an Energy Innovation Co-ordinator at Midcounties Co-operative and I heard the above quote at a webinar I recently attended. I believe it rings true for one of the biggest problems community energy faces to date… and I’ll get onto why in a minute.
Those of you who are reading this are probably very adept with community energy and know a whole lot more about it than I do. In-fact, you may have been researching or working in this part of energy for a while. I, however, stumbled across community energy thanks to the global pandemic.
I’m 21 years old and graduated from university last summer. It’s safe to say that it was a tough time to look for jobs. However, thanks to being immensely driven by the environment, I managed to land a contracted role in renewable energy. Once my contract had finished, I heard about the role I am in now through a network I am in for young females driven by sustainability. I had no idea what community energy was… I hadn’t even heard of the term. If I’m honest, if we weren’t in a pandemic and jobs were easier to come by, I would have applied for a ‘sexier’ job in sustainability – perhaps in ocean-conservation or slow-fashion.
That is the problem.
The reason I, a 21-year-old female am currently in community energy is due to the pandemic. If I hadn’t previously had my contracted role in renewable energy, I wouldn’t have applied for this role. I would have felt out of my depth and as though it wasn’t the place for me. It’s not an accessible space to get into.
However, community energy has really grown on me, so much so I genuinely see a future with it. It is circular, it’s progressive and fundamentally, it’s super ethical. Far more ethical than most labelled sustainable clothing brands, and far more transparent than many ocean charities. By working here, I know that I am genuinely making a positive impact and that my actions are creating good. That’s what’s important to me.
Coming back to the quote; the problem is – if we are not taught and not aware of community energy, we are not going to reach the people whose purpose and drivers align perfectly with the concept. We will continue to suffer from a lack of diversity, and change will not be for the people, but for the privileged.
If community energy is to be truly inclusive, which it has so much potential to be, then we need a diverse range of voices in the room to make the decisions. To do this, we must make it an accessible space that people can see a future in.