Hundreds of people from 10 European countries attended a green conference in Sheffield – where two local projects led the way.
Top speakers including Lord Digby Jones, Red or Dead entrepreneur Wayne Hemingway and Master Cutler David Grey spoke at FutureBuild at Sheffield City Hall.
Delegates, who discussed sustainable housing and renewable energy, walked in past ITM Power’s new Hyundai hydrogen car parked on Barker’s Pool.
One of just six in the country, it is the first model aimed at the ordinary driver. It has a 369-mile range, a respectable 136 brake horsepower, refuels in three minutes – and has no emissions.
But there is just one refuelling station in Sheffield – at ITM Power’s headquarters.
Oliver Coppard, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Hallam, spoke about the Dearne Valley Eco-Project, which he has managed for two years.
The scheme, which is backed by Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster councils, and the Local Enterprise Partnership, is a 30-year vision to turn what was one of the most polluted areas in Western Europe into one of the greenest.
The area, which was heavily dependent on coal mining, suffered 50 per cent unemployment after the closure of the pits.
The project could include nine water heating and solar panels on all 45 schools in the area paid for by a community energy company.
Coppard said: “Sustainable communities can learn from the way Dearne Valley communities put energy at the heart of everything they did.
“It gave them a sense of pride and purpose. The vision is to turn the Dearne Valley into the lowest carbon community of its type in the country.
“It’s about changing the way people live their lives and if we can do it here we can do it anywhere.”
Sheffield Renewables is behind a scheme to provide free solar panels at schools.
FutureBuild was supported by the Re-Green and Renergy projects via INTERREG IVC funding.
Meanwhile, a new charter to promote sharing ideas between Sheffield’s businesses and organisations interested in locally-generated energy was launched at the conference.
The Sheffield Environmental Co-operation Charter was announced by Coun Jack Scott.