by Scott Willis
December is about festivities and family and also that last hectic month of work to tidy up tasks before the summer holidays. This Wednesday, 4 December, is a date I hope many of you will note. Diary: 7pm in Waitati Hall for an update on the Blueskin wind project and progress made. This has been a big year for the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT), the charitable trust overseeing this project, and now is the time to formalise our efforts and set up the entity to take our energy ambitions to the next level. We want your participation and thoughts.
What began as a lovely idea way back in 2006 and has since gone through several reality checks is still a unique New Zealand project to build community wind and community resilience. We’ve developed a body of knowledge on small-scale wind, have accumulated infrastructure and skills, and need to create the development entity now. There’s more at stake here than just a small wind development at Blueskin Bay; we’re also considering what an electricity system that is based 100% on renewables would look like and how it will happen. If we are to move away from fossil fuels and into a low carbon future, we will need not only to remove thermal energy from the electricity sector, but also to electrify the transport network. It is important, if we are to thrive, care for our natural commons and invest for the future that we provide alternatives to the fossil fuel economy – it’s little use protesting about off-shore oil drilling if we aren’t doing everything we can at the same time to replace fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint. Approaching Christmas, we’re deep in the complex web of contractual issues that all have to come together in the right order for us to push the ‘Go’ button on community wind – 2014 looks like being an important year.
Alongside the wind project are a number of other projects and services BRCT is involved in such as: Cosy Homes, Community Energy Advice, solar facilitation, and climate change planning, with more projects in development. Solar, in particular, is really taking off. It now seems that approximately 100kW of solar panels have been delivered and partly installed in Blueskin over the past 12 months, which will generate approximately 1.1Megawatt hours annually. That’s still a long way from the estimated 6.1Gigawatt hours we’d generate annually from the proposed wind development but it all helps us move in the right direction. BRCT’s work is concentrated on developing community wind, but let’s not forget all those other pieces of the puzzle – they all contribute to greater energy security, and cosy, healthy homes. And for those of you wishing to offset some of your carbon emissions over the holiday period, we anticipate being able to offer a carbon offset facility by December, all things going well. Visit us at: www.brct.org.nz or at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 482 2048 and for any information about solar email firstname.lastname@example.org . Have a happy, safe and healthy Christmas everyone.