The focus here is on working with local schools to advance student interest and involvement in clean technology projects, particularly energy projects, and where possible provide them with opportunities for future employment.
The premise is that children who understand energy systems, clean generation technologies and the need to reduce energy use will be ambassadors for change in the community. A key partnership is with clean technology businesses built around business projects they are developing.
Kapiti Coast District Council has a strong interest in clean technology as an economic development opportunity. Underpinning this is a long term interest in sustainable development and how it can manage its services and infrastructure sustainably, including reducing climate change impacts.
A number of its initiatives already contribute to the Energise Otaki vision including photovoltaic installations at the swimming pool and hall, installation of LED lights, the cycleways programme, ensuring its stormwater and wastewater pumping systems are energy efficient.
This focus area reports briefly on relevant Council projects and also provides information on how the community can get involved in Council decision-making on relevant projects.
An important part of becoming a net exporter of energy is through reducing energy use.
At present Otaki is achieving only 37% efficiency in its energy use, with transport fuels only achieving 14% efficiency (see GreenChip report).
An obvious way efficiency can be promoted is by improving home insulation or by providing smart meter systems which allow people to understand and change their usage. There will be others and people are encouraged to come up with projects, no matter how large or small.
Finding ways to produce new clean energy or reduce the environmental impacts of existing energy use is central to the Energise Otaki vision.
A primary focus is on initiatives which help people install clean energy systems in their home, business or community space.
The second and very important focus is on working with clean technology businesses located at the Otaki Clean Technology Centre and Park on new clean energy generation initiatives in partnership with the community.
One of the goals is for Otaki to become known as a place where businesses and researchers can go to research energy use, technologies and community processes around the goal of becoming a ‘virtual off-grid’ town. From time to time, reports on aspects of energy use, energy generation etc will be developed by the various participants in the process and wherever possible these will be made available on the web-site.
Research funding is not available through Energise Otaki at this stage but assistance with mobilising the community to participate in a research project is. For example, if you wish to research your new technology using a range of households, or test your ideas at the street level, or find someone who will work with you to pilot some technology – we will help you set that up and work with the community contacts to make it happen. We also work closely with the Clean Technology Centre and the Otaki Clean Technology Park and can assist businesses working from there.
If we know of any organisation with potential for funding support we will help you make the connections.
The Energise Otaki idea will in the long term require some new thinking about how the actual network is structured. If significant local micro-generation happens then this may have an impact on the network while rapidly emerging storage systems may require a change in thinking.
Fifty-five percent of Otaki’s energy use goes on transport fuels. It is perhaps the hardest nut to crack in terms of reducing energy use.
One of the most positive ways is to provide local people with as many ways as possible to reduce their use.
At the same time, the community can work with clean technology businesses who are exploring alternative fuels or ways to make fossil fuel more efficient and less polluting.