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‘Master the art of soldering’ says youth trainee Saffiyah

I’m Safiyyah and I will be writing about one of the workshops we had at Repowering.

The first workshop that we were able to take part in was a Solar panel making workshop at The Remakery; before we got into the practical part of the workshop, we were given a short run through on the basics behind solar energy and how it works. Shortly after our crash course, we were then given, a batch of tabbing wire and solar panels, we then broke into small groups to learn the art behind soldering, as difficult as it sounds, after a few tries, I was able to ‘master the art’ of soldering. After a short lunch break, we then moved onto assembling our panels which we placed on top of a plastic EVA sheet which was then placed within a laptop case, to seal it all together, we used a sheet of clear Perspex.

We were all eager on putting it together so it wasn’t long till we all had our own completed, fully functioning solar panels and portable chargers. I really benefited from the workshop, thanks to the workshop, I was able to leave with a better understanding of solar energy and how to make a functioning solar panel. Overall, the workshop was very eye-opening and it met up to all my expectations.

Before the Internship, I had never considered a career in the environmental and Renewable energy category, but after completing the Internship, I have decided to expand my choices on future aspirations; I have also gained a lot of experience and valuable knowledge.

Our trainee Yosof reports on our trip to Brixton Pound

I’m Yosof and I will be writing about one of the trips we had at Repowering.

“Where does our money go?” Is a question that the Brixton pound founders asked themselves.
They wanted to make an impact on our local community and make it a better place.

Instead of spending your money in these big corporate companies like Starbucks, where as soon as the money enters their doors you never hear about it again, they wanted to make an benefit the local businesses where they can see the impact the money makes.
They have decided to change this; and they went one step further to create the “Brixton pound” which is a currency made exclusively for use in Brixton’s local businesses. This money is worth the same as Sterling pound so £10 is equal to 10 Brixton pounds.

I thought that this concept was really interesting and was a big step for them to rebel against the normal established currency and create a local currency which can only be spent on local businesses; but it’s an example of the kind of social action we need to do to make this place a better place.

Thanks to this internship I was offered an opportunity with a Social enterprise called Business launchpad where they help young people make social change and start businesses to make the same social action as Brixton pound.

Time to eclipse fuel poverty!

It was Saturday the 19th August, 2 days before the solar eclipse but down in Brixton a different type of solar event was occurring.

Residents of the Loughborough Estate, home of Brixton Energy Solar projects 1 and 2 were invited to participate in deciding how to spend the money accrued in the community fund since 2012, when solar panels on Elmore House and the 5 blocks of Styles Gardens went live!

Armed with energy efficiency surveys, energy saving LED lightbulbs and a solar powered sound system the Brixton Energy team brought the sunshine on a day where the sun couldn’t make up its mind whether to come out or not. The residents of Loughborough, however, did come out!

Nearly 70 people shared their ideas and voted on what they wanted to see the £10,000 invested on in the community. The ideas focussed on activities for young people and the elderly including aspirations for an outdoor gym. More than 30 surveys were completed with residents receiving free goodie-bags all amidst a rainbow of music, drumming, food and dancing.

The completed energy surveys combined with the results of door knocking over the past few months will help us understand and analyse how much money is spent on energy bills in the community. The aim is to tackle fuel poverty on the estate by helping residents, who may be in need, to save money and live in warm dry homes. We will be following up with residents offering free home energy audits, installing energy savings measures and providing one to one advice on switching providers.

As the BBQ was heating up, there was more reason to be cheerful with the presentation of the AQA Certificates to the Brixton Energy internship 2017 cohort. If you have been tracking the Brixton Energy blog you will have seen the progress the young people have been making over the past few months as they soldered, surveyed and spoke their way to the completion of the course. Homegrown Brixton musician MC Fizzy of Music Changes Moods presented the certificates in front of the solar panel array and though the young people were definitely shy in front of the crowd, you could tell they were pleased with what they had achieved.

As the day went on and bellies were filled acarnival atmosphere came about, with tunes from across the globe being spun and generations mixing and bonding over music and food.

All in all, it was a good day which strengthened the already tight resolve between Brixton Energy, the Loughborough Estate Management team and, of course, the residents.

There will be more to come after this event in terms of home energy audits, as well acting on the votes made for the community fund spending. Keep your ear to the ground to find out what next steps will be made.

On target but off-grid

This week the Brixton Energy interns returned to the Remakery on Lilford Road to hook up the panels they built back in May.

This Thursday 6th July the interns were joined by the Remakery team and guest speaker Ian Westmoreland, an off-grid specialist from Demand Energy Equality, to find out how an independent renewable charging station could be built for the community space using the panels they put together.

The group spoke together about the necessities of an off-grid system and the importance of matching the battery size to the expected daylight hours and output needed. A demonstration was given to show how different light bulbs draw different amounts of power and resultantly discharge the battery over different periods of time.

It was decided that an optimum load for the 3 connected panels would be 4 mobile phones, drawing about 7W each.

When the 12V panels are connected together in parallel we can generate about 27Wh per day even in winter! This would suffice to charge 3 phones at the darkest time of the year!

The interns then went about coming up with a design for the charging system to be created using recycled materials sourced at the Remakery.

The system is now going through an iteration of design cycles which will result in producing a completely green DIY solar station. There will be local energy designed, built and generated in Brixton.

The interns are now coming to the end of the internship, and have been involved in many aspects of renewable energy, from learning the theory, making their own panels, being on the roofs to see existing installs, even drawing up systems for a roof of their choice and now constructing an operational off-grid solar system!

To find out more about the work the Remakery do and whether you can bring your own ideas to reality visit remakery.org/

How to be heard…

10:10 social media environmentalists and Local Councillor Anna Birley visit Brixton Energy

At Repowering we realise that the power of your work needs to be supported by effective storytelling, be it through social media, holding events such as the Community Energy London event last week or engagement with the community.

In this modern age there are many ways of having your voice heard, and although we can often get frustrated with the sense of disempowerment we may feel, we should remember that collective change is made up by many individuals coming together.

Over the last few weeks the Brixton Energy program took an insight into the world of 10:10 who encourage people to take action against climate change by engaging them on the world’s favourite social media networks. With clever use of statistics, design and content they are consistently reaching more people around the UK and even the world. Following a social media master session with Kris Tan, 10:10 engagement master mind, the interns developed their own social media strategies for eco-businesses that they have been occupied with throughout the course.

The following week the Brixton Interns took a turn at advocacy with Thurlow Park Councillor Anna Birley making the short trip down from Brixton Hill.

We looked into some of the key issues facing young people in our society, including police stop and search policy, safety of high risers, exams and higher education and even the colonisation of football by big money!

The process of starting a campaign for social reform was outlined; identifying a social issue, gathering the evidence and support of allies and taking the campaign to those who can make the change.

For some participants this was a first taste of local politics and focussing on big issues but we think with the great ideas being raised, it won’t be the last.

 

Hear from our Brixton Energy intern Troy

Good day,
I’m Troy and have lived in Lambeth since birth. I currently work as a youth support worker/ outreach youth worker. After hearing about this amazing energy internship it was only right to commit and find out more! The course began in April and has brought a range of new skills I can use to apply to my daily activities.
On Tuesday 23rd May 2017 some interns embarked on a survey campaign. The purpose of this was to gather data about food wastage. There was no other better place to look than the heart of Lambeth – Brixton village. We were welcomed by many traders, with a brief interruption from the market security. After the short disruption we were free to explore the market.
We spoke with most of the traders who currently have wasted food on a daily basis. We gathered in depth data and aim to use this to create a bigger picture to see how we can change they way food is being wasted, we intend to change the food wastage in to ENERGY using an anaerobic digestion system.
If you’re interested or believe you can add to this amazing idea don’t hesitate to contact us!
 

On the dawn of the election, the real change is on the rooftops!

The summer is officially here! 3 days of consistent sunshine confirms it!

On the hottest day of the year so far the Brixton Energy interns were up on the roof of Elmore House looking at the 37kWp system in action.

Eric Schloss, the intern co-ordinator, talked the interns through solar feasibility and how this feeds into the financial model. Having spoken about crowd funding and community share offers the week before the interns understood the need to make sure the co-operative shareholders are repaid by the income from energy generation, sale and export. This is the heart of how community energy operates!

Although the landscape has shifted massively by the Feed-In-Tariff changes in recent years there is a common understanding that in order to continue installing community owned renewable energy systems in urban areas, onsite usage needs to be maximised. Hence, schools and other public sector buildings are becoming more viable. In this vein of thinking we are in talks with Loughborough Primary School next door, visible from the roof of Elmore House.

The community energy game is changing and so it was great that on this sunny Thursday afternoon the Brixton Energy interns got to see a piece of history on their own doorsteps.

From Brockwood to Brixton

Back in March Brixton Energy hosted students from the forward thinking Brockwood School in Hampshire at Elmore House, the first community energy project on social housing in London.

Across 2 days 60 students were shown first-hand what community energy means, getting onto the roofs to see the panels and having one of the best views of the London cityscape.

The students were given the environmental awareness quiz to gauge their nous for all things eco, shown how a solar power works and how to wire up a solar panel to power lights and fans.

We look forward to hosting more school visits in the future to spread a message of community empowerment and optimism.

Generating a buzz

On Saturday 6th May the Brixton Energy interns lined up at the Remakery on Lilford Road to solder, heat and glue their way to producing three 18V solar panels.

Tunes were played whilst the panels took form and 4 hours later we were able to start charging batteries.

The panels will be donated to the Remakery where they will form a phone charging station for visitors and spread the word about what the Brixton Energy interns are doing!