(Carbon Co-op started its life out as ‘Low carbon social networks’)
What’s your idea?
For a while I’ve been aware of the slow uptake of renewable energy technologies amongst households. Simply put they are too expensive. But if people clubbed together as a co-operative and bought in bulk they would be much cheaper.
I want to develop a social networking site that helps put people who want to buy low carbon technologies together. This will enable people to save money and find others in their neighbourhoods who want to reduce carbon emissions. It’s a simple idea but it has lots of potential and no one is doing it.
What is the social need or challenge your idea could address?
We need to cut out carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Domestic energy will play a big part in this. Everyone knows this but no one is quite sure how to do it.
My idea allows individual households to do it for themselves and gets over the problem that renewables are too expensive to buy because take up is low but won’t become more popular until they are cheaper.
What’s really new about your idea?
Government policy on reducing carbon is all around behaviour and encouraging people to use less carbon. This idea offers a practical action people can take to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
It’s based on the concept of solar clubs developed in USA and environmentally-motivated bulk buying co-ops in Japan but it synthesises them in a new and innovative way.
What inspired you to come up with your idea in the first place?
Living in Hulme, South Manchester. Looking out of my window and imagining the potential of so many empty roofs and imaging a community self sufficient in its energy production. All that is needed is to bring people together.From
1-5, what stage of development would you say your idea was in?
About stage three. I’ve been working on the concept of a low carbon co-op for a couple of years. I have a background in co-ops and have been working with an urban design company, URBED, developing the idea.
We were shortlisted for NESTA’s Big Green Challenge but unfortunately didn’t win. So we have the idea and have demonstrated the need and demand, we just need to make it a reality.
Idea submitted by Jonathan Atkinson
Jonathan freelances on environmental projects as a researcher, project developer and a marketing consultant. His clients include voluntary and community sector groups, social enterprises and universities.