After a four-hour train journey the visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology started with an overview and introduction on Saturday to the whole site, and ended Monday morning with a presentation and discussion around CAT’s latest Zero Carbon Britain work.
The Zero Carbon Britain project presents a credible and holistic vision of how Britain could rapidly evolve to a zero-carbon economy, based on changes in energy usage and supply, transport, food and land use. It’s well designed and presented. Every assumption is of course open to challenge and counterproposal, but perhaps the great strength of the project is that it supports that conversation in a confident, rational and realistic framework.
A number of Friends knew the site well as alumni or former visitors. But we all appreciated the extensive new additions and renovations including an award winning lecture theatre constructed partly with rammed earth.
The site is scattered with eco-tech curiosities: wind turbine blades, early experimental solar thermal and photovoltaics, solar barbeque. The accommodation and catering had something of a youth hostel quality with fresh local vegetarian food and beautiful views.
Sunday morning we did the short and beautiful walk down the hill along a strem with mossy oak trees to a former schoolhouse in Pantperthog where Friends come from many miles around for fortnightly Meeting for Worship. On the return journey we were taken back up the hill on hydraulic funicular, powered by the abundant water stored in a reservoir above the centre.
After our visit the train companies provided a forceful reminder of the challenges that aspiring low carbon travellers continue to face. Robin was pleased to get us all safely there and back. “I’m going home for a cup of tea” he said, faced by the prospect of a series of late arrival compensation forms. “Maybe we’ll fly next time.”
See more images from our visit here (and if anyone knows how to insert multiple galleries in a WordPress post please contact the editor).