The Big Energy Debate

Rebecca Brown from Community Action: MK Reports on our latest MK:Smart Citizen Lab event ‘The Big Energy Debate’; where we were asking “What role can communities play in developing solutions to our energy challenges”

We held our first MK:Smart debate on Friday 5  September at the National Energy Foundation in Knowlhill as part of the series of ‘Citizen Lab’ workshops run by Community Action: MK for the Citizens workpackage as part of the project. The event provided an opportunity for us to trial a debate style format with key speakers, a panel and audience participation.Gerd speaking

On the panel we had four speakers; Gerd Kortuem, Open University and MK:Smart Citizen Workpackage leader; Alan Francis, Green Party; Gary Swandells, Smart Grid Consultancy Ltd; and Ian Byrne, National Energy Foundation. We also had two other members of the panel; Jeremy Draper, Milton Keynes Council; and Satheesh Krishnamurthy, Open University.

This change in style, compared to the workshop format we have used in the rest of the ‘Citizen Lab series’ was run as a pilot. There were 19 people in attendance from various organisations, including Transition MK, TEAM Energy Auditing Agency, Tech Mahindra and MK citizens. The debate focused on a number of interesting points;

  • Making data more readily available
  • Understanding motivational messages – one size doesn’t fit all
  • Addressing communications – people need to know more
  • Organising ourselves – policy/structural change is needed to create an open energy market
  • Community energy projects needing a supportive infrastructure to thrive – accessible knowledge, skills and expertise
  • Establishing our priorities, where we can achieve the biggest impact – and telling people about it

Debate picA range of interesting ideas emerged and were discussed by the participants, for example the development of a Carbon sharing bank and implementing a Carbon Budget. Other ideas that were discussed included Solar panels on Social housing, Community woodlands and Energy sharing initiatives. This was an  enjoyable and interesting morning!