page title icon Episode 03: A sunny disposition

Subscribe to podcast

Feeling the sting of high energy bills? Wish we were less dependent on profit hungry energy companies? This episode is about powering our local futures by harnessing the power of the sun together. Join us to meet people in Oldham and beyond, talking about how solar can be a way of powering our homes and making the electricity that we need in a much more fair, affordable, and sustainable way.

Artwork by Roy McCarthy

You will hear about the experience of individual householders and business owners who adopted solar early. You will find out about innovative business models that could help us to get cheaper energy to local people and how we might even be able to create surplus to re-invest in our communities. 

Image: Brandon Denny

But you might think: Solar in Oldham? Is that even possible? Episode producer Hannah has an interesting proposition. Her thinking is that if we find out that solar energy can actually power a place like Oldham, then solar could power anywhere in England. Join us for this episode to find out for yourself.

Oldham resident Philippa Whittaker tells us how and why she bakes a loaf of bread with solar power and Mohammed Ashraf explains the connection between his solar panels and the well-being of future generations. Simon Davies from First Choice Homes shares their ambitious plans for solar energy to improve their tenants’ lives and community energy group Oldham Community Power who have installed solar on Oldham schools and community centres talk about the energy we can create together – both literally and figuratively. You will find out from Oldham Entrepreneur David Weidenbaum just how many solar panels you can fit on a mill’s roof and hear from Oldham Council Sustainability Lead Andrew Hunt about a near future where we will be able to buy locally produced energy at a reduced price via local energy markets.

Image: Oldham Community Power

This episode is dedicated to the remarkable Philippa Whittaker who sadly passed away since our interview. Though we did not know her long, we were deeply grateful to her for sharing her enthusiasm and considerable expertise across many topics and we’re greatly inspired by her forward thinking and hopes for a more environmentally friendly future. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.

Call to action

Want to get involved? So this week’s question is: Do you know of any renewable generation in your area that is owned by local groups or the council? Tell us about it. As always, we’ll add it to the show notes and do a shout out. Email

Episode credits

Power in the City is produced by Carbon Coop.
This episode was written and produced by Hannah Knox.
Host: Britt Jurgensen  
Local research & interviews: Melissa Kelly Shore
Sound design & postproduction: Barry Han

Interviews with:
Mohammed Ashraf
Philippa Whittaker
Simon Davies – First Choice Homes Oldham
Kate Gilmartin
Bill Edwards – Oldham Community Power
David Weidenbaum
Andrew Hunt

Power in the City is funded by the Electricity North West Powering our Communities Fund, ICLEI Action Fund and UCL Grand Challenges.

Image: David Weidenbaum’s second mill

Find out more

Summary of relevant local data here
Community Led Energy Plans for Oldham – page 49

Solar on your own roof
Solar potential calculator for your roof
Resources about funding, installers, technology
Energy storage
Smart export guarantee by provider

Local Initiatives and Projects
Oldham Community Power
Northern Roots 

Oldham and GM plans
GM Community Energy Action Plan

Regional and national networks and support
Community Energy England – sector organisation, lots of resource and support
Electricity North West – learning pages on community energy
Energy4all – works with communities to develop renewable energy projects
Sharenergy – helps communities to develop renewable energy projects
Community Energy Guide – A practical guide with lots of case studies

Great ideas
Community Energy England case studies
Municipal Power – Find great ideas here
Cumbria Action for Sustainability
Egni Coop Wales
Repowering London

The bigger picture
Co-benefits of locally and community owned renewables 
Zero Carbon Britain Hub Future Scenario 
Carbon Brief – impartial information on climate change and policy

Community Energy England
Friends of the Earth

Share this...

Leave a comment