Climate change induced droughts and floods rendering large parts of Africa and Asia unsustainable for human development, require a transition to zero-carbon fuels. Meanwhile energy prices on the world market have tripled due to Putin’s war in Ukraine. These two factors create a global dilemma which national governments struggle to resolve. Meanwhile, at home, high energy prices make home-grown energy much more viable, while also providing alternatives to expensive, polluting, imported fossil fuels.
By acting now, collectively as a community, to tap our local natural energy resources of solar, wind, hydro etc, our community can join others in not only reducing our emissions, contributing to the global solution, but also controlling local energy prices at reasonable levels.
Do you want to be a part of this energy revolution?
The Energy Group of Action on Climate Emergency ACE, Settle have, over recent months, conducted consultations to explore ways in which local sources of renewable energy in Settle, Giggleswick and Langcliffe can help to wean us off our addiction to fossil fuels. Conserving our natural surroundings and heritage has been taken into account in selecting a pathway to net zero. The results have now been finalised in our Local Area Energy Plan LAEP which can be accessed on our website at https://acesettleandarea.org/about-ace/energy/
The last annual accounting period recorded a total of 22 GWh of electricity and 61 GWh of heat consumed by homes and businesses in the study areas. At current prices this equates to a staggering £7 and £10 million respectively going out of our community on fuel bills. Even without catastrophic climate change, there is a strong economic case for generating as much of this energy as possible at home using our own natural resources.
A number of alternative technologies are available locally. Solar panels are already a popular means of reducing energy bills, producing a surplus during the summer months. Small wind turbines serve farms in hilly areas to the west of Settle where there is a good wind resource and Settle Hydro demonstrates the possibility of harnessing the river Ribble, producing 75% of its annual production in the winter months when solar power is at its weakest.
Anaerobic digestion on farms, where there is an abundance of feedstock, can produce local heating as well as electricity to supply local buildings. In communities off the gas grid, biomass is a locally available fuel which can also produce electricity as well as heat at a large scale, in a housing estate for example.
Air source heat pumps are currently being deployed to replace gas boilers, although older properties, may need improved insulation to make them effective. In new housing estates, built to a high standard of insulation, more efficient ground or water source heat pumps with district heating are a possibility.
Solar thermal panels provide an economic source of domestic hot water in summer and background heating to reduce bills in winter, cutting immersion heater usage.
The group has been working with Local Authorities and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to fit in with the overall plan for North Yorkshire to become net zero by 2034 and carbon negative by 2040.
Key recommendations of the report include maximising the potential of a range of technologies, via a Local Energy Club LEC, in which members share their surplus generation through a Time of use Tariff, or TOUT. This also contributes to the levelling up of demand, important in making best use of our existing energy infrastructure. Larger scale community generators, such as public buildings, churches, schools etc., can share surplus generation with the LEC, earning an income and reducing peak demand from the grid. Planning bulk purchase and installation of household solar panels for residential areas could also reduce the upfront cost of rooftop solar for householders, helping more families to benefit.
Settle’s location near the top of the Pennines makes wind power an attractive option, however landscape conservation is an important factor eliminating very large turbines and wind farms. The potential for small and medium sized turbines could benefit villages and small settlements while making a significant contribution in the context of a LEC, while generating income from sales.
Hydro also presents a valuable contribution to a LEC, providing highest generation in the winter months when solar is lacking. Former mill sites are a potential source of generation capacity, while small tributaries with a high fall of water can provide significant generation to outlying farms and settlements.
Provision of heat is a more difficult issue. In considering planning applications for new developments, in addition to high standards of insulation, the potential for district heating systems powered by biomass or anaerobic digestion should be considered, with the possibility of Combined Heat and Power CHP providing electricity generation in the winter months, while solar thermal panels should not be overlooked as providing a low cost supply of hot water in the summer months.
ACE Energy group would welcome enquiries from individuals or groups wishing to investigate any of these possibilities. Would you be interested in joining a Local Energy Club as a generator (e.g. solar panels/wind), consumer, or both? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you think you have a potential project and need help and advice on how to develop it ACE already has links with possible sources of finance, the electricity operators, and numerous other communities developing similar plans. Get in touch for a preliminary discussion.
Image credit: “Solar PV panel and system installation” by CoCreatr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.