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Meet David Cowans, Chairman, SNRG

“We should embed a microgrid in every planning provision in the UK.”

New SNRG chairman David Cowans is a man with his pulse on priorities. The climate crisis is one subject where anything but urgent action is too late.

The former chief executive of Places for People describes himself as “very, very passionate about sustainability and tackling climate change, but not in an ephemeral, theoretical way – in a ‘what do we do about it?’ way.”

David searches for, and always discovers, solutions. Practical solutions that can be effected with urgency. 

“That’s what really attracted me to the SNRG SmartGrid model,” he reveals. “It was a practical proposition about what one might be able to do, in a realistic way, that impacts on people’s everyday lives.”

Twenty years ago, David introduced the concept of housing being about ‘place’ – a neighbourhood, a community, a location. A place where the climate crisis is recognised as a serious problem to be overcome, and a home’s energy source as one of the solutions.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that we’re now getting to a point where everybody else is catching up with that idea,” David says. “It just seemed obvious to me, and now it’s becoming obvious to everybody else.”

So is the housing market ready to incorporate microgrids? Is it progressing in a more sustainable direction?

“Is it moving? Yes. Is it moving quickly enough? I don’t think it is,” offers David

“I certainly don’t think society’s moving quickly enough to have any effective response to tackling climate change.

“If you see somewhere as a place, that completely changes the way you perceive things. 

“It’s going to be critical that people buy into neighbourhoods that work for everyone. If they’ve got microgrids and they’ve got the ability to trade energy between and within each other, that’s going to be a game changer in the future.”

Persuading people to buy into this vision is a challenge, but it is vital that this mission succeeds. As SNRG chairman, David will certainly be putting his efforts into encouraging progress through sustainability, renewables and innovation.

“More than 300 local authorities in the UK have declared climate emergencies of one kind or another, but I don’t see any practical solutions they’re coming up with,” he observes.

“I would go directly to them and say, the SNRG SmartGrid is a vehicle that can impact, that can attack all areas, that can equally work for a hospital or a school, as it can do for housing development. 

“We should embed a microgrid in every planning provision in the UK.”

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