“Hacking the Energy System” #Manchester 4th November

A one day conference of discussion and collaboration on future energy system opportunities, innovation and change.

When: 10.30am-5pm, Friday 4th November 2016
Where: Great Hall, Sackville Street Building (former UMIST Campus), University of Manchester

Booking a ticket is essential for attendance.

Discounts are available for early bird orders and individuals and community energy organisations. To request a bursary contact: info@carbon.coop

Keywords: energy efficiency, battery storage, aggregation, demand side response, Community Owned Aggregation, smart meters, open source, smart grid, smart cities
Attendance from: Local Authorities, Energy Retail Companies, Community Energy organisations, academics, grid organisations, start ups, technology startup companies

The energy system is changing fast, with traditional roles starting to blend, mix and reshape; driven by:

* Ever more ambitious carbon reduction targets
* Increasing amounts of distributed generation
* New technologies in the fields of battery storage, electric vehicles, local generation, electrified heat, smart meters and grid
* A proliferation of new entrants in to energy retailing including municipal energy companies
* A broad based community energy sector, increasingly looking for new business models including direct supply to local people

Against this backdrop the governance and regulatory environment has been slow to change in particular in the fields of generation and energy efficiency.

Convened by community energy organisation Carbon Co-op in collaboration with the University of Manchester, this one day conference is an opportunity for key players within energy system to discuss the change, challenges and opportunities ahead. The aim of the conference is to share knowledge and experience, catalyse new collaborations and document keys ‘asks’ from the sector around regulatory change.

The event will be followed by the Manchester launch of Nobel Grid, a European-wide smart grids project of which Carbon Co-op and University of Manchester are partners.


Confirmed speakers listed – more to follow

Introduction to the day & Nobel Grid
* Jonathan Atkinson, Carbon Co-op
* Teresa Chilton, Manchester Energy: University of Manchester

10-11am Challenges and opportunities ahead: setting the scene
* Matt Fawcett, Carbon Co-op
* Electricity North West

11.15-12.45 New business models within the energy system
* Mark Atherton, Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
* Simon Minett, Managing Director, Challoch Energy
* Ben Aylott, Carbon Co-op

11.15-12.45 UK Energy Policy – where are we heading?
* Marianne Heaslip, architect, URBED
* Mary Gillie, Energy Local
* Emilia Mellville, Buro Happold

12.45-13.45 LUNCH

13.45-15.00 Technological change and the energy system – opportunities and challenges
* Steve Cox, Electricity North West
* Mary Gillie, Energy Local

13.45-15.00 Democratising of the energy system – municipal and community energy
* Julian Packer, Low Carbon Investment Director, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
* Alan Simpson, Independent Advisor on Energy and Climate Change
* Emma Bridge, Community Energy England

15.15-16.30 Plenary session: what lies ahead for the UK energy system?
* Steve Cox, Electricity North West
* Matt Fawcett, Carbon Co-op
* Alan Simpson, Independent Advisor on Energy and Climate Change

—Conference Ends—

17.00 Nobel Grid Manchester Test Site – Public Launch reception

Supported by Nobel Grid, University of Manchester, Electricity North West and Community Energy England

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Exclusive: #Manchester City Council’s “fly less” guidance revealed!!

A Freedom of Information Act request to Manchester City Council has revealed the sum total of their guidance to their staff on reducing their on-the-job air travel.  Here it is
guidance-page001And here’s the plan they have for producing guidance in the future.
guidance1-page001In July 2016, MCFly asked several questions of the Council and its flying, including the following
I would also like a copy of any guidance supplied to officers and members around reducing the amount of flying they do. If such guidance does not exist, is any being produced?”

Came the reply, 20 working days later.
“There is no specific written guidance regarding reducing the amount of air travel, nor are there any plans to produce such guidance at present”

While you may be shocked (if you naively believe, as I once did, that our lords and masters take their own fine words seriously), it makes perfect sense. Manchester City Council owns 35% of Manchester Airports Group. They get loads of money from the (very profitable) airports within MAG. Having any sort of policy that asked its staff to think once – let alone twice – about flying would be a hostage to fortune.

Oh, and here’s the excuse, sorry, “rationale” they have for their numerous short haul flights. (It wasn’t asked for, but they’ve gotten into the habit of attempting to spin/self-exculpate. Or perhaps just being helpful).

I would also for each of these flights, (and especially domestic and short-haul) were any alternative methods of travel (e.g. train) considered. If they were considered, why was air travel given priority?

Please see the attached spreadsheet. We are unable to provide the information such as dates for travel or reasons for all officers as some of the individuals no longer work for the Council, and the information was not recorded centrally at the time of the booking. In general terms when booking travel arrangements, the factors considered for domestic and short haul air travel included the cost of air travel compared to cost by train. Some of the events were given without notice and the comparative cost of travel by train at short notice compared with cost of flight at the time the booking was made was also factored in. The time taken to arrive at the destination and journey back to Manchester was also considered. For conferences, the start time for the conference and journey time to the conference was also considered. A number of domestic air travel journey’s made by Children’s Services were made due to case related work which requires safeguarding of staff and vulnerable services users to be taken into account as an additional factor.


This is our council, with fewer than a quarter of its members even ‘carbon literate’, with no ward plans that deal with the coming climate crises, with no plan for its own future beyond the ‘inward investment’ mantra.  That buys tickets for people to fly to London, Norwich, Southampton and so on.  Gaia help us all.


PS And yep, I’m flying to Australia shortly, from Manchester Airport. But I’ve reconciled myself to the imminent cooking of the species. The City Council, however, is still spouting fine words, and has a responsibility to look to our long-term well-being. Oops.

Posted in Aviation, Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

#Manchester City Council buying flights to Birmingham, London, Southampton etc

Manchester City Council has paid for  almost 500 plane journeys in the last two years, including to such hard to get to locations as Birmingham, London, Southampton, Exeter and Norwich.  And, along with global temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations, The number of flights is going up

A Freedom of Information Act request, made because the Council’s bureaucrats chose, again, not to provide a detailed breakdown to elected members, has revealed the following

in 2014/15 there were 218 such bookings made, to places as diverse as Riga, Beijing, Poznan and Lisbon.  But domestic flights also featured, including to Southampton (on several occasions, including 21 May 2014, 10 February 2015 and 17 March 2015)  , Exeter (7 July 2014, 24 March) and so on. On 10th March 2015, they paid for a flight to Norwich, citing “train, cost, journey time”

in 2015/16 there were 249 flights, to Dublin, Venice, Rome and other destinations.  Oh, and on 10th November 2015 someone flew from Glasgow to Birmingham on the tax payers’ dime.  More trips to Southampton (22 January 2016) Exeter (24 March 2016)

Here’s a couple of screengrabs of what MCFly got sent. If you’re desperate for the fine detail, email mcmonthly@gmail.com and the spreadsheets can be forwarded.




oh, and here is one where the person seems to have flown to London for some training and then flown back two days later.  Stay classy.



Tomorrow, we’ll reveal the City Council’s plan to reduce its flights. Watch this space.

Has MCFly bothered to contact Manchester’s “environmental groups” for comment? No.  Because seriously, why bother?  Either they can’t or they won’t try to scrutinise and pressure the Council.

Posted in Aviation, Manchester Airport, Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

Upcoming retrofit courses in #Manchester

Carbon Coop courses coming up:
carboncoopimage.jpgRetrofit Advocacy Course – 22nd Oct + 5th Nov 2016
This participatory course is aimed at enabling householders, volunteers and professionals to confidently discuss energy efficiency and inspire others to find out more about retrofit, ie when on a stall at an open home event, in a meeting or workshop or with friends and family. Carbon Literacy accredited.

Find out more here: http://carbon.coop/news/2016-09-16/retrofit-advocacy-two-part-seminar

DIY Retrofit for Homeowners – 12th, 13th + 19th Nov 2016

For DIY enthusiasts, self builders and practitioners, this course tackles the key areas of fabric upgrades applicable to most homes. Includes airtightness works and insulation covering basic measures such as draft-proofing, moving on to more complex subjects including floor and wall insulation.

Find out more: http://carbon.coop/news/2016-09-11/diy-retrofit-homeowners

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Upcoming event: “Climate Change is an emergency; what do we know about best ways of communicating and influencing decision-making?” Oct 20th

Steady State Manchester are having an event. Details below.  It’s intriguing that the premise is that we’ve had “successes” and can “make even more of a difference.”  All the evidence suggests that here in Manchester we have not.  Emissions “reductions” are in line with what every other similar city has done and due to national grid factors, basically.  Few councillors have bothered to do their own ‘carbon literacy’ training and activists sat by as elections that were supposed to be held to a stakeholder/watchdog group were… never held.   But, we need to believe we matter. These are the stories we tell ourselves… Meanwhile, the carbon accumulates


As temperatures reach unprecedented levels, there is a renewed urgency to ensure action is taken on climate change. Knowing this may engage some people and encourage others to run a mile.

Campaigners, academics, museum curators and others are tirelessly communicating about climate change with everyone possible in a range of ways.  What have we learned from our successes and is there more we can do to effectively engage that will make even more of a difference? Steady State Manchester has a holistic view; climate change cannot be addressed without changing the economic model.  How can such complex ideas be most effectively shared?

This cafe conversation aims to bring together a diverse range of people involved in communicating about climate change with all sorts of people to reflect on where we are now and what we can learn.

At Cross Street Chapel Cross Street Manchester M2 1NL on Thursday 20th October 6.30- 8.30pm

Our last event was full in 10 days, 60 people had registered! – Book now

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Low Carbon #Manchester Bike Tour – Sat 17th September

From here:

Join us on a tour of some of Manchester’s innovative projects to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. From green walls and green tariffs to community energy and grey water use we’ll shed new light on some familiar locations as we cycle the city. The route is around 10 miles on roads and cycle paths and we’ll cycle at a leisurely pace.  Meet at 10am outside Manchester Bike Hire (41 Whitworth Street West, M1 5BD); finish 1pm Stephenson Square, M1. Bring a lock for your bike and money for a coffee stop at the end. Organised by Love your Bike and Manchester Bike Tours.  Led by Pete Abel and Ursula Harries.

Bring your own bike or hire one for the morning.  Please book in advance with Manchester Bike Hire if you want to hire a bike for this event  – please note bike hire not included as part of Eventbrite ticket.

Any questions contact Ursula on 07828 466999 or Pete on 07951 642858

When Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM (BST) – Add to Calendar Where Manchester Bike Hire – 41 Whitworth Street West #1A, Manchester, M1 5BD – View Map

Posted in Transport, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

Black Lives Matter shuts down London City Airport not #Manchester, obvs.

Protestors have closed a runway at London City Airport, for climate (and racism) reasons.Here’s a video explaining the reasoning.

Yep. Climate crisis is a racist crisis. We have known this since the the climate issue burst onto the global scene in 1988 (well, earlier). And rather than address global (and local) inequalities we have dicked around with fantasies of CCS, emissions trading and ‘carbon literacy’. We have sat in rooms while bullshitters (mostly but not entirely old rich white men) said and spread their bullshit.

Meanwhile the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen, the waters have risen, the temperatures have risen and the death of billions has been ‘locked in’. And yet we (climate activists) constantly think of ourselves as the ‘good guys’ who ‘mean well’.


[And yes, I fly, if there are no other options.]

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