The increasing concern for the climate crisis, energy crisis in Europe, and rising power bills have inspired many individuals to reevaluate their energy sources and seek out alternative solutions. One couple, Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn, both artists and filmmakers residing in London, have taken it upon themselves to lead the way in sustainable energy by transforming their street in the neighborhood of Walthamstow into a solar power station.
Lynmouth Road, where they live in a narrow brick house, is now the site of their Power Station project, which aims to help their neighbors switch from relying on fossil fuel power plants to generate their electricity to utilizing solar power. This is a result of a series of local actions they plan to undertake to spread the message of sustainability. By creating a solar-powered street, they hope to serve as an example for others and help raise awareness about the benefits of clean energy.
The Power Station project is more than just a solution for their neighborhood’s energy needs, it is a symbol of the community’s commitment to the environment and the importance of sustainable energy. The couple’s innovative and forward-thinking approach to energy usage serves as inspiration for communities around the world, reminding us all that change starts with small actions and that it is never too late to make a difference. By working together, we can make a significant impact on the planet and create a brighter future for generations to come.
According to the POWER website, the project is a combination of both demonstration and action, aimed at constructing a solar power station across North East London, using art and infrastructure to address the intertwined issues of the climate, energy, and cost of living crises. It starts on one street as a model and inspiration, literally constructing power and possibility from the ground up.
Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn’s idea to turn their street, which has “Power Station” signs in the windows, into a solar power station was sparked during the pandemic.
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According to Edelstyn in an interview with EcoWatch, the couple were previously busy creating a film about the origin of money and why everyone is in debt, except for banks who create money and are profitable. They discovered that the financial system is the key driver of climate chaos, as banks are not motivated to invest in green projects as much as they are in more profitable, but destructive, schemes. With this knowledge, the couple decided that their next project would incorporate their findings and developed a “thinking through doing” approach. They aimed to set up a renewable power station on their street and document the journey.
According to The Guardian, Powell and Edelstyn were inspired by two books, The Case for the Green New Deal and People’s Power. In The Case for the Green New Deal, author Ann Pettifor used the phrase “Every building a power station” which caught the couple’s attention. The couple considered the idea of transforming their street into a power grid by connecting homes. During the lockdown, they saw the rise of mutual aid groups and noticed that change should start at their doorstep. This led them to think about taking mutual aid to the next level by turning their street into a decentralized power station and empowering themselves to take action. As Edelstyn mentioned in an interview with EcoWatch, they aimed to relocate power and agency to their own doorstep.
Powell and Edelstyn initially envisioned that their whole street, Lynmouth Road, would have access to free electricity under cooperative management, however, this proved to be challenging as not all residents owned their roofs. Despite this, almost half of the homes on Lynmouth Road, approximately 30 households, are participating in the Power Station project.
To determine the resources, effort and cost required for their project, Powell and Edelstyn engaged in research, which involved consultations with experts and sharing of information. They set up a membership site and organized Zoom calls with experts, during which they answered questions and addressed concerns of their members. This approach of learning through discussions proved to be successful and valuable, as it allowed for the exchange of ideas among many individuals and allowed for a distributed method of development.
Edelstyn and Powell initially funded their project through their membership site, which had around 350 paying members. Membership provided access to information, Greenback artworks, bi-annual cocktail parties, film credits, and shoutouts on YouTube. They then shifted to crowdfunding and raised £100,000 in 23 days while camping on their roof. They also raised £50,000 for a school in 28 days to turn it into a power station and reduce its energy costs, leaving more funds for education. All information gathered during the project remains accessible for free on the membership site and continues to act as a database for future projects. The couple also offers workshops to share their knowledge and experience with others.
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