The Dyfi Solar Club ran from 1998 until 2003, initially part-funded by a broader European Commission funded grant designed to promote community-based renewable energy in the Dyfi valley, Powys, mid-Wales. As a member of the National Network of Solar Clubs, the Dyfi Solar Club sought to make solar hot water heating technology cheaper and more accessible to residents of the Dyfi valley and later across Powys more widely. To reduce costs, club members were trained to install solar panels themselves, and could also take advantage of discounts on equipment secured through bulk-purchasing by the National Network. In total, the Dyfi Solar Club trained 30 people and resulted in 18 systems being installed within the Dyfi Valley, as well as a further 13 systems being installed across Powys. Policy and market developments in 2003 damaged the cost-effectiveness of the Solar Club approach however, and ultimately led to the closure of both the local clubs and the national network.
Each case study is written up as an ‘Innovation History’, allowing participants to explain their own individual stories, with researcher reflections and insights inserted into the text.
Ro Randall – founder of Carbon Conversations – stated how the innovation history approach, and conceiving of Carbon Conversations as an ‘innovation’, had made her think about things in a new way. She says:
“Reading your draft has helped me reflect on the relationship between innovation/innovators and the networks of people and support that give them space to innovate. Innovation often gets seen as having an ’author’, rather than being a group or network product and although I was pivotal, Andy’s role was absolutely key. I could have innovated my socks off but without his technical expertise – from knowledge of the science and technology, through to his ability to manage the finances and website – little would have happened. Beyond that there has been a much larger network of people who have contributed to the project and perhaps don’t get recognised as they should. Maybe there are inevitable tensions between innovative projects and the environments that nurture them. Good reflective practice can certainly be helped by having people from the outside taking a look – they see different things, offer other frameworks and that can be really useful.”
We hope you enjoy our Innovation Histories, we will make them available here throughout 2012 as they are completed.