What would a Dorset that was self-sufficient in electricity from renewables look like? Some would have you believe that it would be a forest of giant wind turbines, its historic landscapes spoiled, but that image is a long way from the truth.

An energy-independent, low-carbon-footprint Dorset would look much like it does today, with the occasional wind turbine turning on the horizon. However, you would notice that industrial estates had photovoltaic (PV) cells on the roofs of the buildings, and canopies over the car parks carrying additional panels. Since industrial units use most power during daylight hours when the PV cells are generating, this is an efficient way to generate power.

Farms would also have PV cells on the roofs of outbuildings, and possibly a sun park on an unproductive field, reducing their energy costs and gaining a new income stream. A small-scale wind turbine might also be turning near the farm yard. Farms producing animal waste may have a circular tank among the outbuildings – an anaerobic digester producing electricity from methane generated by the composting waste.

Public buildings such as schools would have PV cells on the roof, also generating income for the community. The many mills along the Stour and its tributaries may have found a new lease of life generating electricity using modern turbines, while looking the same from the outside as they have done for centuries.

On a domestic scale, many more people would be using wood to power their heating, and many more sunny roofs of houses, garages and outbuildings would wear PV and solar hot water panels.

Ideally, each town would have decided for itself how it wanted its electricity to be generated, by sun park, biogas generated from its food waste or large wind turbine. It would select the site and install and run the equipment itself – unlike conventional power generation, the technology and costs of installing renewable generation are well within the capabilities of a local community. This means that the income generated stays within the community and is not siphoned off to multinational corporations and their shareholders.

The village of Wildpoldsried in Germany has not only become self-sufficient in renewable energy, but generates a substantial income for community projects from selling the excess energy – enough so far to build a new school, gym and community hall. A similar vision of renewable prosperity is very achievable for Dorset, not at some point in the future, but starting now, with existing resources and technology.

Everyone can get involved in this exciting energy revolution. If you have premises in North Dorset suitable for installing renewables, Energize Stur Valley, part of Transition Town Sturminster Newton, can give you independent expert advice. If you don’t have the roof, the field or the capital to install your own system, you can switch suppliers to Good Energy, and your home will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

For more information please contact Energize Stur Valley by emailing stur.transitiontown1@gmail.com.