Repowering London: How solar gardens at Overground stations are challenging Big Energy

Repowering London: How solar gardens at Overground stations are challenging Big Energy

Agamemnon Otero is one of the founders of not-for-profit cooperative Repowering London, and he is working with Patti Zogolovitchon a Brondesbury Park

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Agamemnon Otero is one of the founders of not-for-profit cooperative Repowering London, and he is working with Patti Zogolovitchon a Brondesbury Park Overground station in London where they are planting a garden.

Apart from taking produce home from the garden, Patti states that it’s the relationship with the community that she treasures.

Repowering London has a plan to create as much as 40 energy gardens by October where food and flowers will grow, and that will host bees and birds and clean the air on the platform.

The following step is to raise funds to instal solar panels on Highbury & Islington stations roof. These panels will earn money from the feed-in-tariff which will be distributed across the Energy Garden group to provide funds for a volunteer coordinator at each station.

Otero said that they’d got a clear message from locals that they’re not excited by vegetables and that young men are more interested in growing hops for beer and young women are more fond of biodiversity, hedgehogs, bees, air quality and birds.

Co-founder of Repowering London Afsheen Kabir Rashid said that they work with local groups to get grant funding and set up energy gardens which will generate income which will be used to fund the community in their activities.
Executives from different charities and foundations like Big Society Capital, founded by the Government to Esmée Fairbairn which is one of the largest independent grant-making foundation in England, were invited by Colin Baines, who is a campaign manager at the Friends Provident Foundation, to visit community energy schemes. Baines hopes some of these will back the likes of Energy Garden.

Energy UK, a representative of the big six energy providers in the UK, has recently switched to a pro-green agenda although it was regarded as one of the defenders of fossil fuel consumption.

Under the Conservatives government did not provide much support, and the installation of solar panels decreased as the Chancellor George Osborne cut subsidies by 65 per cent. In these circumstances, the third sector came forward, and the Friends Provident Foundation has helped create a plan for Wales to switch to renewables, funded a community asset bank and invested in a wind co-op in Swansea.

Baines stated that Friends Provident Foundation had accepted a three-stage strategy to support “the three D’s”: decentralisation, decarbonisation and democratisation. It supports community energy projects and is also applying pressure from the top by buying shares in utility companies and after that calling for new business models that support community energy. Repowering London was being forced to sell solar energy to the big six suppliers at 5.1 p and then repurchase it at 17p while the big providers took all the profit.

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