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#239  Taking back the Power: Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and onto the good stuff with Howard Johns of OneZero

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Today we’re blowing open a route towards energy security, reduced carbon footprint and saving money – all in the way we make, distribute and use power. If each of us could minimise our own power use, we’d be a step on the way to reducing our overall carbon footprint: more, we’d be changing the ways we think of ourselves as separate from the web of life.

This week’s guest is long time friend of the podcast Howard Johns. Howard is an activist, author, and serial entrepreneur in the field of energy generation – of how we power our lives, keep the lights on and keep ourselves warm. Howard is now CEO of OneZero energy, a team of energy experts and digital nerds with a shared passion for getting homes off fossil fuels. One of the biggest climate actions anyone can take is to retrofit their home with four components: Solar panels, batteries, heat pumps and insulation The combination of these makes homes more comfortable, but more importantly, it saves significant amounts of money and massively reduces the carbon footprint – weaning us off fossil fuels.

Howard himself has founded and led an award winning solar business, a pioneering community-owned energy company, and written a guide book to help others to do the same. He’s given a TED Talk, occupied a coal mine and campaigned on energy and climate issues from inside parliament and atop treehouses, and until recently ran a large fleet of solar projects across the EU and UK.

In Conversation

Manda: Hey people, welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that if we all work together, we can lay the framework for the future that we will be proud to have left to the generations that come after us. I’m Manda Scott, your host and fellow traveller in this journey into possibility. And as I’m sure you know, my novel came out a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t read it yet, I will put a link in the show notes. If you have read it, please could you give us a review somewhere online? Whispering to the algorithms is a thing, and this is a book that is going to make it by word of mouth. So that would be good and we would be very grateful. And in the meantime, my guest this week is somebody who is absolutely being the change that we need to see in the world. Howard Johns is a long time friend of the podcast. He was with us back in episode 89, and I’ve put a link to that in the show notes, too. Back then we were talking about the book that he wrote, Energy Revolution. About his activism, about the many companies that he’d set up, pulling together different ways of creating community energy. Finding solutions, finding ways to bring people back to the power that they need. And today we’re on a similar track. Since we last spoke, Howard has set up and is now CEO of Onezero Energy, which, as you will hear, is absolutely designed to bring everything that Howard has ever done together. It brings his activism, it brings his deep understanding of power generation and the businesses around it, and the ways that it’s financed and the politics and the legislation and the practical ways we can all change our own homes. Or Howard’s company can change them for us. To wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

Manda: And we’re doing it in ways that save huge amounts of money, save energy, thereby massively reducing our carbon footprints, and keep our homes more stable in terms of energy and heat, and are therefore more comfortable. It’s also going to mean that we still have energy going forward, when our ageing and creaking grid is at the stage where it’s going to fall over, because it can’t cope with the shift from fossil fuel generation to a broadly and mostly renewable, or we could call it rebuildable generation. So this is a conversation about power in all its forms. It’s about how we take agency back from the fossil fuel companies and in the end, probably from the banks. It’s about how we build communities by sharing the sources of our power with each other. It’s about the things we need to change politically so that we can share the sources of our power with each other. And in the end, it’s about each of us finding ways to become the change that we need to see in the world. In a world where we don’t really know what we need to do, and we have ideas, and actual practical moves can be hard to find; this is a podcast full of practical things that you and I can do to make a real, substantial difference in the world. So people of the podcast, please do welcome Howard Johns of Onezero Energy.

Manda: Howard, welcome back to the Accidental Gods podcast. How are you and where are you this very lovely afternoon?

Howard: Thank you for having me, Manda. It’s very exciting to be back. I’m in Sussex. I’m mildly stressed at the moment because I’m running up to launching Onezero in its next city, or its first city in fact, which is Brighton, which is happening in about ten days time.

Manda: Right. So it will just have launched by the time this goes out. Fantastic.

Howard: Yes.

Manda: Okay. So you are CEO of Onezero and last time you came on the podcast, Onezero didn’t exist. So tell us about its birth and its growth and what you’re heading for.

Howard: Yeah. So sometimes you have to make those sort of stupid decisions where you throw all the sensible ideas out of the window and try and do something that changes things again. It was my 50th year last year, and so I quit my sensible CEO job, running all the assets of a stock market listed investment fund, which was a big portfolio of solar and wind projects across the UK and Europe. So literally this time last year, I decided to jump out of that and found this new company, Onezero Energy, which is all about how we flip the energy system on its head, basically. I’ve been dreaming into it for, I guess, 2 or 3 years now, and it just seemed like there was a whole load of things coming together that meant that I should really give it a go, to try and make this new project happen basically.

Manda: Before you go into it in depth; dreaming into things. I’ve just been teaching all weekend, so I’m still definitely in the dream space. How do you dream into things? Is that something that you’re happy to share with people?

Howard: I guess it takes a range of forms. I mean, I’ve always had strong visions, you know, from a child. I always felt that there was something not quite right with the way the world was set up, so then I’ve always had these visions of how it could be different and then have effectively tried to do that. So this is my 10th company and all of those companies have, apart from one, been basically focussed on how to shift the paradigm in some way or do something new. So there’s that sort of deep flow from childhood and then there’s various support mechanisms. I’ve done now 12 years of ceremony or 15 years of shamanic work as well. So some things that have happened to me in my life, where I’ve thought in a ceremony, oh, wouldn’t it be a good idea to do such and such? And then the classic one was, wouldn’t it be a good idea to write this book? And then within three weeks I had a publishing contract and I was like, oh my God, I’ve got to write the book!

Manda: Now you have to write it. Yes, yes!

Howard: So yes, the deeper side of where this comes from for me, creating Onezero, actually there’s a lot of prayer and deep, deep drawing from the heart that’s given me the courage to step forwards with this basically. When everyone’s saying, no, this is not possible. It’s too difficult. It’s not a solvable problem in the way you’re trying to solve it. I’m literally told that every day, virtually. It feels like.

Manda: And yet you are doing it.

Howard: Well, I’m trying. I’m trying. You know.

Manda: You’re about to launch, so you’ve got a long way down the line. So tell us what it is, how you are flipping energy on its head, what it is you’re doing that everybody says is not possible?

Howard: Yeah. It’s very simple. So we all live in houses. Our houses, particularly in the UK, are in a terrible state. Most of them, you know, let’s say probably 60% of the heat energy that goes into them just leaves through the fabric. And the electricity we buy for them is coming from a really inefficient source and is often wasted when it gets to our homes. So I guess I’ve been doing solar particularly and renewables since about ’99 or ’97, something like that. And I’ve seen huge shifts in what’s possible with those technologies, but also huge shifts in particularly the cost. And obviously with the last couple of years and the shift in energy prices, it means that renewables basically are really compelling. So for a homeowner right now to retrofit the home. So what we’re doing, to answer directly, is we’re helping people to fix their homes and turn their homes into power stations. So that’s a combination of things. It’s solar, it’s batteries, it’s heat pumps and it’s insulation. It’s those four things. For your average three bed post 1930’s house, we think we can deliver that for about £21,000 before any government support at the moment. So about £13,000 installed. And we think it will save 1.5 To £2,000 on their bills per annum. And that then is really the fuel for financing that change basically. So at the moment we’re very early stage. We’ve done 20 or 30 homes in the last 4 or 5 months, which has been great.

Howard: I guess basically I’m trying to fuse the aspects of my life, Manda. So I started off with climate awareness in about ’93. Became a road protester and climate activist at that point; lived in trees, all that sort of stuff, was evicted from a tree on a coal mine. Then I decided, okay, you’ve got to build solutions. So I set up building solutions companies. One of the solutions companies I built was a community energy company, which was the first to build a solar power station on the roof of a building funded by the local community. Because I felt like unless people see themselves in the story, the story is not going to happen. So how do we bring people in? We give them tangible benefit from it, basically. So that was community energy. But it became frustrating because it’s all voluntary and it’s just too small, you know. So then I went and got involved with the funds and that was pension fund money, £1.5 billion portfolio, of these large scale solar projects. So it’s like, okay, this is scale. Some days my solar plants were doing up to about 2.5 to 3% of UK’s peak power. Which was awesome.

Manda: Wow. Yes.

Howard: But with that last role I was doing, managing those assets, looking after them both financially, technically, legally and practically. So I had two companies doing that. And then I also set up a development company, which was then going finding new sites and developing new solar farms, basically. And what became apparent is that the grid is full. So the grid as it currently is, is full. We can’t really fit any more renewables on. There’s a massive queue. So we can’t get to our net zero targets with large scale renewables. That’s what became apparent. So then I started thinking about, well, there’s still this huge untapped potential, which is domestic homes. So we have to go back to the start and go back to where I started originally, really in about ’99. And there’s this huge opportunity in that to create a new type of energy company, which is distributer first, which is owned primarily by the individuals who own the aspects of it, but is networked using the internet to optimise itself. So that’s what we’re trying to build effectively, is a distributed energy company that’s owned by thousands of people across the country, and that manages itself to balance the grid effectively and leverages that change. So obviously if you can’t put new large scale renewables on the grid and we can’t meet our carbon targets, then we’ve got a problem effectively. And we know we’ve got a problem anyway. Sorry,I’ll stop.

Manda: No. That’s good. There’s so many questions and so many things I want to dive into. So working back; the grid is no longer fit for purpose. The grid is an old, I mean it seems almost a statist idea from the 60s of we’ll do everything centrally, we’ll have these huge power stations, we’ll send power out to everybody. I remember learning about this at Schumacher. And that there’s 30% power loss just in the lines that are taking it out to people’s houses, which is a huge amount of carbon being burned to no good effect at all. And then it gets the houses and as you’ve said, most of it is heating the air around the house as well. So your idea is a distributed system where people create the power close to where it’s used. So I’ve got solar panels on my roof and your washing machine needs power, and for some reason your solar panel is not producing it. Are we going to end up with a system where I can sell you or give you some of the power from my roof, and you’ll give me some back later. Explain a little bit how the local distributed network works.

Howard: Yeah. That’s already happening in some parts of the world. It’s currently against the law in the UK. So to sell power you have to be a regulated body. So it’s not possible right now. But if we can get enough critical mass of homes that are connected. So on your solar, for example, if you add a battery, you’ll find that suddenly you go from at the moment probably you’re using 25% of the power coming off your roof. If you add a battery, you can probably go up to 85% of the power being used at home. Batteries change everything. Because there’s two things. So as we’ve decarbonised the grid already, again, we’ve been hugely successful in doing that. So all the large scale renewables that I’ve been running and managing and all the other brilliant companies out there that have been banging their head against the wall and getting this stuff done in the last two decades. We got 40% of our energy as a country from renewables last year, a big chunk from wind offshore and onshore and then a chunk from solar. But what happens with renewables is that they’re intermittent. So when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, we’ve got loads of power; when it’s not, we haven’t got any.

Manda: And we need the power when the wind might be blowing, but the sun is definitely not shining; when it’s cold and dark in the winter is when we need the power.

Howard: Exactly. So intermittency is the way the grid is now, moving forwards, and it’s going to get worse. So if you can balance the grid, if you can store power or decide when you want to draw power in, that becomes super valuable. It’s called demand side management. And effectively that is the future of the grid. So if your home has a battery and a heat pump, let’s say, and our algorithms can decide when to turn them on and off, then that becomes very valuable to the utilities. So the guys who are running the grid, if they can go, okay, there’s 10,000 homes that we can turn on and off at will, that means they don’t have to turn on a gas peaker plant or a coal fired power station, or whatever it is they’re using to balance the grid. And that’s worth a lot of money. So that’s where we’re going with this is, okay, how do we be an aggregator for loads of domestic systems? Where we can sit in between you guys and the grid companies who are big, complex, they’re going to give you one option or two options, you know. How do we get you, the homeowners, the best deal and leverage our power as the consumers? Because effectively, the studies that I’ve seen from sort of futurecasting the grid, say that if we had 4 million home batteries, that would balance the intermittency of renewables on the grid.

Manda: 4 million out of a population of over 70 million?

Howard: Yeah. So 28 million homes. But if you had, let’s say, 10% of the homes, 20% of the homes done with a battery, then that balances all that volatility. So that is a real opportunity for a shift in power. For a shift in ownership and for a shift in the structure of the energy system. So that’s what I’m playing for with this, basically. Again, it feels like the technology, the costs, it’s all come into this amazing moment of sort of alignment effectively. And that there’s a real opportunity, I think in this next decade, the decade when we know we need to make bold moves, to really actually make those moves. And it’s not because it’s nice and it’s not because of the environment necessarily, it’s because it’s going to make financial sense. It’s going to be the most cost effective way to solve the problems we have right now. And for homeowners, it will be the most cost effective way to get power. So that is the compelling alignment that I’m trying to basically push out there and make into a reality in the world.

Manda: Okay, so as the fossil fuel companies are trying to price gouge us out of existence, we can just go, sorry, guys, we don’t need your fossil fuels anymore because we’ve got something better.

Howard: Yeah. So the moment you have a home with solar and battery, you can start to shift. So in the winter, yep, you’re not going to generate enough energy. Solar is really cheap. You fill your roof with solar, generate as much as you can, spill to the grid. Sequentially load things. So in my house you know the battery is filled first, then the car, then we heat water or run a heat pump, for example. So you can basically try and maximise the use of the energy you’re generating at home. And then when you’re not generating enough, you choose the windows when you import. And you can schedule that to be the cheapest moments when power is available.

Manda: Because you’re filling your battery, not powering your washing machine when you need it.

Howard: Exactly. And you can do that at night time. So, for instance, I schedule all of my extra imported energy requirements between 11.30pm and 5:30 a.m., and I get power for a quarter of the price at night time than I do in the day. So straight away you’re doing an arbitrage on power. And this is something that traders used to do and now homeowners are going to be able to do, so it’s super exciting for geeks like me anyway.

Manda: And the power companies then are very happy, because as you said they’re not then getting peak load between 7:00pm and 9:00pm, when everybody switches on their television, their kettle and their heating and their computers and want all the power at once.

Howard: Exactly that, exactly that.

Manda: So to what extent is this possible now? Is this an AI led thing or could we do it without needing to talk to ChatGPT or whatever version we’re using at the moment?

Howard: So there’s no AI involved with what we’re doing at this moment. I think there will be potentially when it comes to optimising the systems. Again, we don’t have enough systems connected to need to have a really smart optimisation system in there at this moment. But I think that will come. So to give you an example, so in Ukpn that runs the grid across London and the South east (UK power networks). They’ve got about 120,000 distribution substations. So each one of those connected to, let’s say, x thousand houses. They run a whole load of scenarios as to what’s going on with energy. They’re forecasting that within a decade, within ten years, all of them will be overloaded, pretty much. And they’ll have to either build massive new ones or stop people using so much power. So there is this tangible problem coming, and that’s based on the scenarios around decarbonisation and around uptake or electrification of homes. Because people want this stuff, you know, electric cars, for example; everyone said, oh no, no one’s going to buy electric cars. But actually it was something like 30% of new cars last year in the UK were electric.

Howard: So the moment people experience it, the moment you experience solar, the moment you experience an EV, it just makes total sense. So this market’s moving much faster than the legacy companies think is possible basically. But anyway they’re forecasting their substations are going to be overloaded. Now if that was the case they’d have to spend, I used to run big substations with the last role, and you could spend half a million £’s per substation. So you can see it’s billions to solve the infrastructure problem. So if I could go to them and say, all right, I’ve got 3000 homes behind this substation that I can drop off the grid at that moment when you’re going to be overloading the substation. I’ve got 3000 heat pumps, and I can make sure that they start at different moments during the day, so we don’t get a surge in consumption all at the same time. That’s going to become really valuable, because it will mean they can offset their investment in new infrastructure. And so that’s the future of the grid basically at this point.

Manda: And does part of the business model require that the the big legacy companies invest in what you’re doing in order to avoid having to pay billions out for new substations? Is that how it’s going?

Howard: I think where it will go is that we will effectively, and again it’s already started; so there’s already contests for flexibility. So they are putting out contests saying if you can drop power by X amount behind this substation for six periods during the year, we will pay this much per megawatt that you drop it by. So already if we can get enough houses together that have got this kit on them, we can already start to monetise it basically. Again, it’s a very nascent market. There’s a lot of people talking about it, but there’s not many people who’ve actually worked out how to do it yet. But this is definitely where it’s going.

Manda: You said at the top of the show that people were telling you this was impossible, and I would have thought that the big power companies would be actually biting your hands off for this. They wouldn’t be going, no, this isn’t possible. They’d be going, please make this happen as fast as you can all around the country; we’ll do whatever we can to support you. Is that the case?

Howard: No. Not really, well, not at all. Not at all.

Manda: Why?

Howard: I guess you have to look at the structure of those companies and where their investments lie. So if you’ve invested in infrastructure that’s got a 20 or 40 year life, like a power station, what do you want to do? You want to make sure it pays the returns over the life of that piece of kit.

Manda: Right. Your arithmetic from 20 years ago has to still apply regardless of people and planet or biophysical limits or…

Howard: I mean, it’s a mixed bag. So some of the companies are really blocking, some of them are being quite proactive. So people like Octopus who are new entrants, this is their DNA, this sort of stuff. They’re very much leading this space. Some of them are starting to play in this space, but I don’t think any of them know. So you’ve got to put it in context. They’re the least trusted organisations in society, the utilities.

Manda: Surely the water companies have managed to sink below them by now.

Howard: All the utilities, water and power; people hate them basically. So would you allow them to control things in your house? Almost certainly not.

Manda: No, we’re avoiding having a smart meter for exactly that reason.

Howard: Exactly. So it’s unlikely that having their name attached to this is going to help us, basically. That actually it needs to be something new that people build trust in. For me, the key thing with this project is about trust and it’s about transparency. Because I think there’s a huge lack of trust in society in what people say in truth, in so many things. And actually, there’s huge division at this time in society as well. And for me, part of the dreaming of this company is, okay, how do you build something that can bring people together again, even in a very small way. So part of what I’m working towards is to be able to display for a community where they’re at. So, for instance, we ran the numbers on the first homes between January to the end of March. Our first Onezero homes were 41% powered by their solar and battery, in the darkest time of the year, when solar only contributed 3% to the grid.

Manda: Wow. That’s an order of magnitude difference.

Howard: It’s amazing, isn’t it? The last two months, it’s been something like, 65 to 70% of their energy coming from their systems, basically.

Manda: Okay, because we’re in the summer now.

Howard: So if you think about the impact, it’s about trust but it’s also about, okay, how do we disarm the current system as quickly as possible? We take it’s money away. That’s the simple thing. We take money away from the existing structures. I feel like I’m rambling, but I’m trying to fuse the various elements of my life. So the activism with the finance, with the practicality of how do you get this stuff done? So, for instance, the Brighton launch that we’re working up at the moment, we’ve been trying to recruit student climate activists. And in fact, they’ll probably be going out this coming weekend onto the streets of Brighton to talk to people about this stuff. Because I just feel like there is a movement already out there around climate, but we need to flip that movement to one of practical solutions. I’m a huge fan of Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain, the messages are spot on, but rather than lie on the motorway, let’s actually go to people’s houses and put insulation in them. Let’s just do it, you know what I mean? There’s no reason why we can’t do that. No one’s stopping us from doing that, you know? So how do we bring people with us and get them on board to be part of this? Because again, it’s that whole thing of if people don’t see themselves in this story, they’re never going to do it. And actually there is a story here that’s unfolding that most people are not aware of, that is this transformation of the energy system, that they can all participate in. So that’s the story I’m getting people to go out and tell, basically.

Manda: And it’s so exciting because you’re right, you can be a complete climate denier, but your fuel bills are your fuel bills. And if you come along and go, look, we’ll make them 10% of what they were or 50%, it’s got to be worth it.

Howard: Yeah totally.

Manda: I have so many questions on my notepad. Let’s talk a little bit about battery tech, or at least ways of storing energy. Because I remember when I was looking into this a while back, there were things mostly in colder countries, but we’re looking now today at some data that’s saying there’s now a 50% chance that the Gulf Stream will switch off, in which case the UK is at -40 in the winter. We’re going to need ways of storing heat. And one of them was in Canada, where they dug these huge holes in the ground as kind of like a well, a series of wells in a spiral.

Howard: Inter seasonal storage. Yeah. There’s a project called Drake’s Landing, which is exactly that I can talk you through.

Manda: Okay, so let’s talk about energy storage then. What’s the latest? Battery technology, and then how does something like Drake’s landing work and could it work here?

Howard: So I mean batteries, it’s lithium ion, which people talk about this is a terrible thing. In all the research I’ve done, I can’t find that there’s masses of negatives about it. So it’s a very abundant material. It comes from a liquid salt. So there’s salt deposits under the earth. You can drill down, pump them up, extract the lithium and pump them back down again. So that’s totally possible. The first commercial extraction of lithium has happened in the UK already. It’s starting to pop up all over the world now that there’s demand. And the two main issues I’ve seen with it, one is around tribal lands in Bolivia, South America, those sorts of areas, which of course is terrible but is not exclusive to lithium extraction. It covers every form of extraction.

Manda: Every mineral that we mine basically.

Howard: Exactly. You know, where indigenous communities have had land taken from them in colonial periods and there’s never been redress. So that’s, I would say, not a lithium specific issue. It’s a respect for indigenous communities issue, which is something slightly different, which of course needs solving. But is not lithium alone.

Manda: And you could solve it the way they’ve solved the putting casinos on tribal lands in the US, which is you guys get the income. And actually income from lithium would be better than income from casinos, one thinks.

Howard: Completely. Completely. I mean, there’s some amazing tribal energy product projects in the US now as well, where they’re putting solar farms on tribal lands and stuff like that. So this stuff is coming. There are some really amazing tribal leaders, leading renewable energy companies now. So that that story is definitely developing. The other main, uh, impact that I’ve seen from lithium extraction is lowering of the water table. So if you pump too much of the salt out and you don’t put water back in, then the water table can lower. And obviously that’s terrible for all life. So that obviously needs to be regulated and controlled and make sure that that doesn’t happen.

Manda: And is there not a risk… So I’m just imagining you’re taking local water to pump in, to make sure that the local water levels don’t drop. And this feels like a kind of self-reinforcing negative feedback loop quite fast.

Howard: It could be. It could be, I guess. So the cleanest form of this, what I’ve seen, the latest UK plant; the water they pump in is the water they pump out. So they pump it up. They put it through a process which extracts the lithium, and then they pump it back down again. And it’s a closed loop.

Manda: And the volume of the lithium is not significant enough to drop the water table. And is lithium ion likely to remain the best battery source? I remember again, looking at a company in Austria that were making salt batteries, which looked amazing, but they were just very big.

Howard: I mean, it depends what you’re doing with the power. So any any time there’s motion involved then lithium is almost certainly the best at the moment. But there’s constant development. I mean, for instance,  people talk about the rare earths and that sort of stuff; cobalt and things like that. Cobalt was in the early lithium batteries, it’s not in many of the current ones. There’s constant design evolution.

Manda: So that’s saving another set of mines.

Howard: Exactly. Again, when when I talk to people about extraction and our society, currently the studies I’ve seen, I think it was a UK government study actually, around how we move to a circular economy and a renewably backed economy, that the rates of extraction would drop to a 30th of what they currently are.

Manda: Okay. So can we recycle a lithium ion battery? Can we kind of rejuvenate it?

Howard: Yes. Exactly that. I don’t know the science, I don’t know the chemistry, but I know it can be recycled. Same with all of the materials that go into most other bits of the renewable infrastructure. Okay, not the wind turbine blades that are made out of carbon fibre, but I’m sure they’ll find something to do with them.

Manda: I hope so, because I keep seeing videos on YouTube of farmers in the Midwest of the US, basically hundreds of acres, clearing away the topsoil, putting down the turbine blades and then pushing the soil back on top. And I think that’s not a farm anymore, it’s just a dead cemetery.

Howard: I mean, I think there’s a lot of… Let’s face it, dead cat throwing is really easy to do, you know? So people say, oh, heat pumps are terrible, aren’t they? Because there’s been so much disinformation put out there, and when you look at what’s been going on in the background. So the gas boiler industry, the government has actually been trying to force it to sell more heat pumps. Now there’s been eight months of terrible stories about how heat pumps kill your granny and all this sort of stuff. And then they won in the courts, and I’ve not seen a story since. They won a reprieve to not be required to sell more heat pumps for another year.

Manda: Oh, and suddenly heat pumps are not killing your granny at all. We have a heat pump. I have to say, we’re really happy with it and it’s saving a lot of money and and the quality of the heat; because what you’re doing is heating the thermal mass of the building and depending on your thermal inertia, so you keep a stable level of heat. It doesn’t do that very hot or very cold.

Howard: It’s radiant heat rather than convective heat. It’s much more comfortable. And there’s a common theme which I’ll just pull in here which is around efficiency. So a gas boiler you put in one unit of gas, you get 0.6 to 0.8 units of useful heat out. So it’s 60 to 80% efficient. Maybe it’s 60 to 90% efficient on the best boilers running in optimum conditions. A heat pump you put one unit of electricity in, you get 3 to 5 units of heat out. So there’s a step change in the efficiency. So if you think about that primary energy equation of how much energy we need, we potentially need a third of the primary energy than we’re currently putting into the system to run a renewables world. It’s the same with if you generate solar on your roof and you put it in a battery, you’ve probably got something like 10% losses on the round trip efficiency of that process. Compared to a power station, which is burning at 30 to 40% efficiency. So one unit of coal or gas in, only 0.4 of a unit of electricity out.

Manda: And then you lose 30% of that in the grid.

Howard: It’s not quite 30 on the distribution, it’s more like ten on the distribution. But still you’re looking at three times the energy in at the front end to make one unit of electricity at your home. Versus one unit off your roof. To me that’s the really exciting bit, is all of these technologies. Same with cars. So a petrochemical car, you’re looking at 30 to 40% efficiency in terms of the fossil fuels that go in to actually forward motion. So only 30% of it turns out as forward motion. The rest is lost as heat, braking, noise, all the rest of it.

Manda: Or just pumped out in the exhaust because it’s still in vapour form. Talk to me a bit about Drake’s Landing, because that’s quite an exciting idea.

Howard: Yeah. So that’s a project that was set up ages ago in Canada. It’s an interseasonal storage using solar thermal. So there they just built houses, 10 or 15 years ago, they built houses to a sort of regular building standards level. So they weren’t like super houses at all. They weren’t super insulated or anything like that.

Manda: But regular for Canada is not regular for here. Canadian houses are properly insulated because it is very cold in the winter.

Howard: Yeah, but it was still not like amazing amazing.

Manda: It wasn’t passive house.

Howard: It wasn’t passive house. So then they made the roofs of I think it was just the garages out of solar thermal; big solar thermal sheets that just collect heat effectively. They join them all together, then exactly as you described, they created a series of boreholes in like a spiral. And then they sequentially load the heat into that structure, which basically just sits in the ground. They put some insulation on top of it. In the summer months they pump heat into the ground. In the winter months they pump heat back out. You know, it’s simple as that. There used to be a website that was live showing the live outputs, but they were achieving something like a 93% solar fraction on those buildings.

Manda: Goodness gracious. And then all the power that you need is in the pumping, and the rest is just coming from the sun.

Howard: Exactly that.

Manda: I mean, there’s obviously embodied energy in the actual stuff, but there’s embodied energy in everything that we have.

Howard: There is, there is. But no, I mean, solar thermal. Again, no one talks about solar thermal anymore. I love the stuff. I’ve installed loads of it. And I was hoping where I’d get my community energy company to was to do another form of this, which was a solar thermal district heating scheme. So in Denmark they’ve got lots of district heating and there they’ve got things like interseasonal storage. The simplest form of interseasonal storage for heat is like dig a big swimming pool, effectively. Fill it with water and a liner and put a massive wodge of insulation on the top of it. Then in the summer heat that up to like 98°C.

Manda: Okay, so it doesn’t quite boil off.

Howard: Exactly. In the winter, run that heat around your community. Simple as that.

Manda: Given that sunlight is rarely even in this country over 40 degrees C, how do you multiply up the heat? Are you using some kind of countercurrent heat exchanger to make it hotter?

Howard: No, no, solar thermal is amazing. It blows your mind when you see it in action. Obviously it all depends on what you’re trying to heat’s temperature. So if you’ve got a big tank of water at 20 degrees, the panel will firstly be at 20 to 30 degrees. The moment you’re like five degrees above the source that you’re trying to heat, then the panel will be at that temperature basically. But as the source increases in temperature, so does the panel effectively. But solar thermal is not in vogue in the UK at all. For instance, we’re not doing any solar thermal in our home retrofits at this moment, because it’s much better to use a roof space to generate electricity and then use that to run a heat pump. Just because the costs are expensive, basically, because it’s another system to integrate.

Manda: And our sun is not that hot. Does that make a difference?

Howard: Oh, no. So my last house that I did for my family, which we moved out of a year ago as well, I put eight square metres of solar thermal on it and that provided hot water and some of the heating for probably 7 or 8 months of the year; heating and hot water was off that alone. And then in the winter months, it provides the start point. So in that house, the bills water, electric and heat were less than £1,000 a year in total. So yeah, quite amazing.

Manda: And it was presumably very well insulated.

Howard: It was.

Manda: Let’s talk about insulating houses. Because obviously Insulate Britain is onto something. Everybody except the traditional builders thinks that insulating houses is a really good idea and the traditional builders try to get away without it. So in your company you said the four things. It was solar batteries, heat pumps and insulation. We’re going to retrofit insulation on the outside, on the inside, both?

Howard: So in this current guise with Onezero, we just focuss on simple insulation. So it’s amazing. You’d be mind blown how many houses we go around and they’ve got no insulation in the loft or they’ve got 20 mils or 50 mls.

Manda: Whatever was the legal minimum at the time when they were built.

Howard: Yeah. So you should have 280 to 300 mls of insulation in your loft. So anyone watching this, if you haven’t got it, go and have a quick look. If you haven’t got it, certain people can get support for it still. But just do it. You know, 20% of your heating bill is going up through your loft.

Manda: Going up through the roof because heat rises.

Howard: So just sort it out. For that we’ve been using a company called Indinature. They are a UK based hemp manufacturer. They grow hemp in the UK and they turn it into insulation batts. And we’ve worked out that if we use that, for every 50 houses we do, we can lock ten tonnes of carbon in the lofts.

Manda: Right, yes, of course. And it’s never going anywhere until they burn down, which hopefully they won’t do.

Howard: Exactly. So it’s a really quick win rather than using a petrochemical waste product.

Manda: Which is fibreglass is petrochemical based?

Howard: Well certainly things like Celotex are. Rockwool is sand effectively, spun sand, but it has a big fossil fuel input to make it. But hemp is brilliant. It doesn’t need any pesticides, fertilisers or any of that stuff. It sequesters carbon in the soil as it grows and then you cut it and turn it into insulation and you lock that away in the house. So it’s a triple win.

Manda: Brilliant. So that’s doing the roof. And then are you also going to do the walls and the windows? Or is the roof enough to make a difference?

Howard: Yeah. So we’ve decided not to do any things like external or internal wall insulation or new windows, that sort of stuff. So generally we’re only working with houses that can have their cavity filled if that’s appropriate, and that’s already got double glazing. Again in time we’ll see where it goes and maybe we’ll start to take on more complex stuff. But for me this is all about how do we make this affordable? So for £21,000 that I gave earlier we can deliver the package of measures. If you wanted to do external wall insulation, you could probably double that and then the paybacks just gone.

Manda: Okay, but if an individual was feeling particularly wealthy or are there loan companies, I mean, the Ecological Building Society or something, that would loan people? Because it seems that they’re going to pay this off quite fast?

Howard: Yeah, they probably will. But you’re looking then suddenly at like 20 to 40 year paybacks the moment you start doing that stuff. Whereas where I was going for is we can get a 70% carbon emission drop with the simple insulations, a heat pump, solar and a battery for let’s say 20 K, that then becomes very financeable. Again, we don’t have the finance product that we will eventually get to yet. But that’s where I’m going.

Manda: Because people have to see it.

Howard: Yeah. So where I’m going with this is that I want people to be able to have this with no capital. So we can go, okay, you want to do it? Fine. You’ll pay over 7 to 12 years, depending on the systems. And you’ll pay a proportion of your savings. So every every month you’re going to save £100, £200, whatever it’s going to be, and you’ll pay 80% of that across and that will pay down the capital. And straight away that’s money not going to oil companies. Okay it’s money going to a bank maybe for seven years and at the end of that your bills drop massively. For those that can’t afford to finance it, we just need to get them onside with this and let’s give their money to a bank rather than a fossil fuel company.

Manda: Particularly if it’s a bank like Triodos that doesn’t then support fossil fuel companies. It’s another win all round. They get reduced costs and they’re paying off to you, so you just need someone with the capital to start you off and once you’re going then it’s a rolling concept.

Howard: So that’s what I’m working towards at the moment. With Brighton, I’ve launched saying I want to sign up 1000 houses. And I’ve said specifically I want to sign up 1000 houses that don’t have the capital, because if I can find 100 homes, work out what it will cost to do those homes, which is very quick for us to do, then I can take that to a bank or to multiple banks and go, okay, guys, who’s got the best offer for these homeowners? Already with some of our homes that we’ve done already, we’ve talked to their mortgage provider. So for instance, already and again this will probably be a huge source of capital for people moving forward. So mortgage providers are legally required to decarbonise the homes that they’re lending to.

Manda: Oh, really?

Howard: Yeah. So ESG requirements.

Manda: The Tories haven’t overturned that? That’s amazing.

Howard: Well it’s International banking standards. Esg requirements basically mean that banks are having to report on their scope one and two and three emissions. Now, if you’re a mortgage company with loads of homes, your emissions are coming from your homes, so you’re going to have to come up with a plan to decarbonise them. Also, if you’re a mortgage company, you probably know that if you lend £15,000, let’s say, to a homeowner to do this stuff, they’re going to get an EPC improvement on their home, so their home will be less costly to run. That will also mean that the home is worth more money. So for every EPC band jump, you get 10 or £15,000 more when you come to sell it. So for a mortgage company it’s a complete no brainer to do this stuff. They’ve already got the exposure, they know the credit risk, they can decarbonise the home, they can make it worth more money. They know that the homeowner will be able to finance the additional payback from the savings.

Manda: Right, because they’re already paying for their power and they’ll actually be paying less. So unless the economy goes head over heels. Gosh, you really have thought this through.

Howard: So that’s one route. And Nationwide have already got a 0% £15,000 mortgage upgrade for this stuff already. So we’ve done some homes with that. So again it’s like this is a real no brainer.

Manda: Right. So that’s for people already with Nationwide. But then if you were intelligent you’d moved to nationwide in order to get this, which nationwide must have figured out a while ago.

Howard: Well I think they’ll all do it. I think they’ll all have to do it. And when we were chatting earlier in the week, you were asking about what would I like to see from the next government? All I would like to see is a framework that means that all banks will give 0% or very, very low interest rates lending against this type of investment. Because if the government created an environment where that happened, they wouldn’t have to write a £28 billion check. Someone else would write it.

Manda: No, no, they just need to give the banks the capacity to do it. Although if they set up a green investment bank, which there was a point when that was a thing, then it would be an obvious thing for a green investment bank to be investing in.

Howard: Yeah, totally. There’s loads of people who would like to invest in this stuff all over the world. There’s banks and building societies and all sorts of folks. If the government came in and said, okay, if you’re going to lend to this, it has to be at a 2% interest rate, let’s say, or a 1% interest rate, and we will cover the difference between what you need commercially and what the market needs to make it move fast, it would be a much smaller ticket they’d be writing, than if they were trying to underwrite the whole capital spend basically.

Manda: Although if they do that, they’re basically just bunging money to banks who frankly don’t need it. Whereas if they were to fund the whole capital spend, if I’m hearing you right, you’ve got British companies making the insulation, presumably British companies making the solar panels insofar as they can, given they’re mostly made in China. The batteries and the heat pumps. And then it’s circulating in the economy and comes back to them as tax. And that’s what governments in my view, are for. I don’t suppose either colour of the current parties thinks that’s what they’re for, but that would be an incredibly useful way of maintaining a flowing and lively enlivening economy.

Howard: Yeah. I mean, it will be. It will be. This is this is going to be the big economic driver. If there’s a Labour government, they’re well aware of the economics of this and they are all over it and they will do their damnedest, I think, to stimulate this market and make it grow. I saw shadow energy minister a couple of weeks ago, Alan Whitehead, who’s a lovely, lovely man who’s been in this space in energy for a long time, very knowledgeable, working with Ed Miliband, who also is super knowledgeable on this space.

Manda: Who gets it. Yes.

Howard: They’re talking about 5 million home retrofits in their first term.

Manda: And then your company Onezero could be the people doing the retrofits. Could they? Or is that a separate thing?

Howard: Potentially. No definitely. Definitely. I mean, there’s great headline numbers there. The reality is there’s no industry or very little industry. The industry that is out there is often focussed on the stuff we were talking about earlier, which is very deep retrofit, you know, like triple glazing and or you must do this first. And I’m like, I don’t think we need to.

Manda: Okay, we want to get you to passive house standards, whatever it takes.

Howard: Yeah. Exactly.

Manda: Right. If you’re saying put hemp on the roofs, have we got enough land to grow the amount of hemp that would be required to do it?

Howard: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never done the maths on that one, but I reckon we will have.

Manda: And if not, we could probably import it. That’d be okay.

Howard: Grow it on solar farms.

Manda: All right. So we’ve got a financial model that works. We’ve got a government that’s behind it. When I looked into this years ago at Schumacher, it turned out that Dartington had the only licence in the country to have a local grid where it was legal to sell money around. They weren’t using it particularly, but they had the licence. If Ed Miliband were given free rein and had an epiphany and said, okay, you can create local grids. I am thinking from what you’re saying, that the capacity is there, you would just require the software. To get my house, I’ve got rid of excess power, I’ve filled up everything, my heat pump has done what it needs to do. The house is warm enough, cars full, batteries are full, washing machine’s not on. Your washing machine needs it? I can send it to you. And we can use AI and blockchain to get finance back to me. Are you kind of ready for that? So that you could press the button and go, okay, flip the software, go.

Howard: People are already doing it in different bits of the world, you know? There’s a great company called Sol Share that’s doing it in Bangladesh. They won that amazing prize that Prince William put on, I can’t remember what it’s called now, but two years ago. So they’re micro solar, they came up with a way of joining them together. Because obviously solar and battery, the moment your battery is full, if you’re not connected to a grid, the system just shuts down and you’ve got a panel just sat there doing nothing. Whereas if you can join it to your neighbour who hasn’t got enough power, you can start. So in rural economies in global South that’s already happening; there are people that are experimenting with this all over the place basically. It’s definitely coming. And I think in some ways that’s the sort of problem I hope we can come to solve in time. So as we left the EU, the EU passed a law that enabled EU citizens to be able to sell power to each other. And that’s just unfolding across Europe now basically.

Manda: So okay, so listeners in Ireland can already do this.

Howard: Yeah potentially. Obviously we opted out of that. But I think this is where it’s going. And I think aligned groups of homeowners forming collective power stations is where we’re going, basically. And again, if you think about the climate issues, resilience, flooding, grid outages, all that sort of stuff, you know, local resilience will be absolutely key. So having a bunch of embedded infrastructure that’s independent but also could interact, that is key to that resilience moving forwards basically.

Manda: Yeah. And it saves the power stations. We’ve got a very hard limit on the number of solar panels anyone in our area can have because the substation can’t take any more, which is essentially what you’re saying. So they’re either going to have to invest in more substations or are they just tell everybody not to have any more solar, which is insane. So the capacity to share it amongst each other, that’s just a change in political will, there’s nothing practical that needs to be done there. So we’re in the middle of an election. Everyone listening to this in the UK could go to the various candidates and go, do you support this as an idea? And we’ll support you if you do, along with a bunch of other things. Talk to me a little bit about wind. Because we’ve said solar batteries, heat pumps and insulation. Does wind play a part here, or is it just that it’s not something that you can do locally?

Howard: Oh, very much so. Yeah, very much so. I mean wind is a scale thing. So I have built small scale wind turbines and if you’re off in the woods in the middle of nowhere, then a small scale wind turbine, (or in a field in the middle of nowhere) can be great. But I really wouldn’t recommend homeowners try and put a wind turbine on their roof, for example.

Manda: Okay. The old ones that you used to be able to buy from B & Q were not actually going to make you much power, were they?

Howard: They didn’t make much power, and they actually damaged the buildings because they vibrate. So they actually had to withdraw them from the market because they were pulling the homes apart basically. So wind is great and it’s really best off in the sea, because there you’ve got really smooth airflow, you can build very big machines that capture the energy. So again, if you think about our homes, our network of homes, in the winter we don’t have enough power, but the wind is going to be blowing. And probably there’s going to be moments, already there’s moments where the wind turbines get shut off because there’s too much power. So in those moments, instead of shutting the wind turbines off, we go great, thanks, we’ll soak all that up for a fraction of the cost.

Manda: We’ll all turn our heat pumps on; it’ll be okay now. And just very briefly segwaying on to heat pumps. My understanding of how the heat pump works here is that it’s averaging the temperature through the house, and it’s maintaining that thermal mass. And it seems to switch itself on and off at random moments because it’s measuring external versus internal temperature. What I am hearing from you is that you want to have a third criterion in which is external internal temperature and actually we have some power we’d like you to use. Or you can’t do it now because now is not a good time. Are people going to end up with cold dips in the house, or are we going to create more thermal mass in the house? Or how do we get around it.

Howard: No, you just run it for longer outside the windows when you don’t want it run. So already we have a bit of kit that does that. So there’s a clever company called Homely that produced a controller that’s basically got the algorithms built into it that will optimise your heat pump. So it will optimise it for your thermal comfort, but then also optimise it to reduce the amount you’re spending on running it. So already you’re pairing that up with a tariff, for example, which is going to give you specific windows. I mean again people probably don’t realise but already across Europe there are multiple days when power price goes negative. So wholesale spot power price goes negative, because there’s loads of sun and there’s loads of wind.

Manda: They are paying us to take the power. Wow.

Howard: They will pay you to take the power. It’s already happening in the UK as well, where wholesale price goes negative. That’s going to happen more and more frequently as we get more and more renewables, large scale renewables on the grid. So being in a position where you’re set up to go fine, fill my car up, fine. Run my heat pump. That’s where this is going. And potentially having a very, very minimal energy bill at the end of that, because you’re balancing the grid, you’re doing them a favour, you know.

Manda: Right. Yes. This is where the nuclear fusion people say is we get to the point of energy that’s too cheap to monitor. And nuclear fusion is always 40 years away, so we’re not waiting for that. Although I gather Sam Altman thinks that he’s going to need the AI to solve nuclear fusion in order to produce the power to keep the AI going, which feels like a bit of a circular argument. And also, yeah, good luck, but. So this is really exciting. How can people listening, obviously if you’re in Brighton, Onezero, the link will be in the show notes. Sign up. Elsewhere? How is this going to roll out and how can people become involved?

Howard: Yeah. So there’s a couple of problems we’re trying to solve. One is people don’t know what to do and how to do it. So over the coming year I expect to have downloadable content. So if you wanted to start this in your area, you could download a bunch of content and potentially start in your street, by talking to your neighbours. And when we get a small critical mass in an area, we’ll come and help set up. Basically what I was trying to do is create lots of pathways for different people to benefit. So I’d like to be able to train someone in a community to survey their neighbours homes, for example, and be able to then pay them to go and do that. Also with local trade. So specifically again, conscious design on this company was that there’s loads of tradespeople out there who don’t do renewables because the market’s too complex and because there’s a whole range of factors which I won’t go into that stop them from doing it.

Howard: So what we’ve done is gone, okay, let’s take all those blockers away for them and let’s become like an empowerer of tradespeople. In fact, I even wanted to make them one step on; let’s make them the heroes of this story. The Onezero heroes is what we’re calling them. So at our Brighton launch, we’ll be giving out our first 100 kilowatt hero badges or whatever to some of the trades who’ve done 100kW of installations in the last few months. So I wanted to make it really easy for them and make it really profitable for them to do this stuff, so that they become champions in the community, and also so that they add this to their existing businesses. So to start in a new area, potentially all we need is some enthusiastic people and some local tradespeople who are open and we can get going. That’s the plan. We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll probably over the next two years, try and get into seven major urban centres. So that will be Bristol and Birmingham are probably the next two and then potentially Glasgow.

Manda: Manchester, I would have thought. And up in the North East with Jamie Driscoll.

Howard: Exactly. So if there are folks out there listening who are enthusiastic, who like these ideas, by all means reach out. We’re really open to collaboration. We’re just trying to create a story that lots of people can see themselves in. This is why I want the student climate activists involved, because I want them to be the start point the promoters who go out there and talk to people. We’re in this nascent phase, which is always quite uncomfortable but you have to just sit with that and go through it and hope it doesn’t stress you out too much and go and say your prayers and all that sort of stuff to find your way through it. But the first students going out for me is a big milestone, because I know being an activist leads to sort of burnout and depression often.

Manda: Yes, totally.

Howard: But the solution to that, the antidote to all of these problems that we face as a society is action. It’s actually solving the problem, you know? So that’s what I’m trying to create: a pathway for lots of different people. Homeowners, for tradespeople, for activists, you know. So one of the ways we’ve been rolling this out already is we created this thing called Street Leads. So most people care about this stuff and some people are really active already, and they’ve written to their MP and they’ve done their insulation, they’ve maybe got solar already and they’re evangelists already for this stuff. So we were like, okay, why don’t we team up with you and you put on an event in your street or in your community. We’ll come and talk to everyone and tell them what’s possible and then help them try and do it as well. So that’s worked really well as a model, to give people agency in their community. So things like that are really replicable. It’s been amazing because people want to take action, they’re just frightened and confused. And when their neighbour goes, no, this is a really good idea; look, come and see. Have a look at my app, look I’ve only used £0.10 of electricity this week! You know, that sort of stuff. And it’s really compelling. And they go, oh yeah, okay, I get this. Of course I can act.

Manda: Come and stand in my house and feel it and look it’s fine!

Howard: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to pull people together in community. Because this isn’t about giving something up. It isn’t about some terrible thing that we’ve got to do, reducing the quality of our life. This is about making things much better, about taking back control. It’s about taking money away from companies that none of us want to see succeed anymore. You know, it’s about checking that our neighbours are okay and looking after each other. It all plays into this. I hope that this can turn into some sort of movement basically, fusing the different aspects, where people actually feel like they’re part of something that feels a bit more profound than buying energy from a utility, basically, that’s the mission.

Manda: Yes. Being part of the solution, having agency. Howard, this is amazing. I am so, so inspired by this. I definitely can see various people out here wanting to be very involved. I will send this podcast to a lot of local people and hope that all of the other listeners do too. Is there anything else you wanted to say to people listening? That sounded like a pretty good manifesto to me, but if there’s anything else, now is the time to say it.

Howard: I guess I just think, you know, this is time for action. It’s time for creating pathways. And just for people not to underestimate. I think we all underestimate the impact that we have. But everything you do at home, I think it’s multiplied three times upstream. So if you’re questioning whether you take action or not, don’t. Because it has a huge impact.

Manda: Yeah. Just do it.

Howard: And collectively we can change this. I’m convinced that in this next decade we could really change stuff, because everything’s right, you know, all the conditions are there basically. So come on, let’s do it. Let’s do it.

Manda: And that’s such an antidote to all of the doom and gloom out there. And the thing about it is we have to change everything in the next decade. We don’t have a lot of time to spare. And you’re offering a pathway of how to do it. Fantastic. Let’s call it a wrap at that. Howard, thank you so much for coming back onto the Accidental Gods podcast.

Howard: Thank you so much for having me.

Manda: I think we should have you back in a year or a year and a half and see how it’s going.

Howard: I’d love to. I’d love to come back.

Manda: Expanding around the world and what else we can do.

Howard: Thanks so much for having me, Manda.

Manda: Thank you so much. See you soon.

Manda: And that’s it for another week. Enormous thanks to Howard for all that he is and does. I am so in awe of his capacity to see the bigger picture, and to find solutions in the face of what quite clearly is a lot of resistance. Everything that he said seems to make an enormous amount of sense to me. It seems plausible and possible and necessary. And if any of you out there are looking for something you can actually do, then getting together a critical mass of people in your own street, your own village, your own neighbourhood, whatever you can, wherever you live, and getting in touch with Howard and bringing this technology into the places that you live as fast as possible seems to me a really good move. Not only will you actually be making pragmatic changes to the money that you spend and the carbon that we pump out, it’ll also make narrative change to the people around you. I am pretty convinced that if people can see that there are things they can do, the denialism and the despair and the deflection that are so rife at the moment will be much less. It’s far easier to accept something if you know you have agency. And this gives us agency. So please go to the show notes accidentalgods.life. Go to the podcast page or find them on whatever app you’re using. And explore Onezero Energy and everything else that Howard has done.

Manda: And while you’re there, if you could subscribe, give us five stars and a review, we would be happy with that too. It’s my season for asking for reviews and I hate doing it, truly. But algorithms are what they are, and it does feel quite important that we meet as many people as we can. So there we go.

Manda: We’ll be back next week with another conversation, possibly with an election special in between. And in the meantime, thanks to Caro C for the music at the Head and Foot. To Alan Lowells of Airtight Studios for the production. To Anne Thomas for the transcripts. To Faith Tilleray for all of the extensive work behind the scenes and for the conversations that keep us moving forward. And as ever, an enormous thanks to you for being there, for caring, for listening week in, week out, and for sharing the journey. And if you know of anybody else who cares about how much they pay for their power or where it comes from, or what the carbon load is, or they just want to take agency away from fossil fuel companies, please do send them this link. And that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.

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If the current electoral/governance system is not fit for purpose (and who could possibly imagine it was?) how can we lay the foundations for new ways of organising democracy, new ways of voting, new ideas of what governance is for and how it could work in the twenty-first century. How, in short, do we create space for future generations to be able to decide their own futures in ways that are not constrained by material or political strictures they’ve inherited from us?

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