A £10 million (US$16 million) campaign to encourage homeowners, schools and communities across the UK to take the initiative in developing and installing their own Renewable Energy schemes is now a reality.London, United Kingdom – January 15, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The ‘Clear Skies’ initiative is a vital component of the government’s renewables strategy to capture the imagination of individuals and local communities that want to play their part in the renewables revolution. The Scottish Executive is putting up £3.7 million (US$6 million) to fund its own parallel scheme, with shared Web site and criteria. “Renewable Energy can be about thinking small as well as big,” said the UK’s Energy Minister Brian Wilson. “The ‘Clear Skies’ initiative is an excellent opportunity for community groups and homeowners to bring forward useful projects. There is huge potential, for instance, in the encouragement of small wind generation – proven technology for which there is a worldwide requirement.” The capital grants program will be supplemented with measures designed to increase the uptake of Renewable Energy technologies and create a better understanding of the range of benefits they can deliver. The initiative will provide training and accreditation for professional installers to ensure that the general public can trust the products being installed. “Many UK homes are poorly insulated with heat escaping straight out of roofs and windows, leading to more expensive fuel bills for consumers and higher emissions,” said Wilson. “This is why the ‘Clear Skies’ campaign also promotes energy efficiency.” Suggestions for local projects could include: a ‘solar street’ where water heating panels are fitted to the roof of every house in a street; a small-scale hydropower project in a school; installing a wind turbine to provide electricity to a hospital; using energy crops, such as willow or poplar, to provide heat for a community farm. The ‘Clear Skies’ initiative will distribute grants to residents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and will accredit installers across the UK.