Making the Energy Transition

Liaising with the Ace Steering Group, our Energy working group provides a forum for discussion of alternative energy options and will be discussing Sandy’s proposals at its meeting this evening. ACE is pleased to provide a platform for these discussions which are exploring how the community can develop energy plans employing a mix of renewable technologies with some local storage to ensure continuity of supply. If there is enough local support for these ideas, the aim is to set up a group, independent of Ace, to progress them.  Sandy develops his ideas in this posting.

Barry White Secretary.

Why do we need an energy transition?

Sandy Tod writes.

Our electricity supply, built after the end of World War 2, comprised a number of large thermal power stations, initially exploiting indigenous coal reserves as fuel, later backed up by North Sea gas. The National Grid distributed electrical energy originally from the coal face and ultimately from North Sea gas fields, throughout the country. When indigenous fuel reserves ran out, coal, oil and gas supplies were imported to fuel the same system, with little change to the National Grid’s supply network.

Insecurity of supplies from overseas and the contribution to climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has created the need to make a transition to alternative sustainable local sources of clean energy, primarily solar, wind and hydro. Crops grown for fuel in the form of biomass, contribute to space heating in homes and businesses. In a few cases, co-fired with coal in traditional power stations, they reduce the impact on the environment of the few central power stations still to be decommissioned.

This transition to a large number of relatively small decentralised sources of renewable energy requires our National Grid to be adapted, to maximise the potential of multiple small scale producers of electricity. It also creates a more resilient supply system, as a few small generators breaking down doesn’t have the catastrophic effect of a breakdown on a multi megawatt power station.

The local transition

The relatively small size of the generating plant makes it possible to turn our homes into small power stations and to collectively finance local generation at a larger scale allowing us to market our energy locally. Revenue from energy production can be directed at further local investment, improving the sustainability of our rural communities.

There is scope for us to take advantage of the transition and for it to benefit us all. By being part of the transition we are not only helping protect the environment, we are contributing to the prosperity of our own community.

There is also scope to use our imagination to develop schemes uniquely suited to our environment, geography and business infrastructure. For example our industrial heritage provided a site to install one of England’s first Archimedes screw water turbines at Bridge-End Mill in Settle. There may be other opportunities where, for example, waste heat from industry can be used to provide space heating to nearby homes. Food waste can be collected and used to create bio-gas to heat a community building and combined heat and power (CHP) can burn biomass to provide heat with electricity generation as a side product.

How you can get involved

This is not a new idea. In 2012 Settle Area Regeneration Team (StART) commissioned a report by CO2Sense entitled Settle Sustainable Town. The report examined in detail current energy consumption patterns and proposed a 10 year action plan to reduce the town’s energy usage and make use of local renewable energy sources. While the action plan was not implemented, a considerable number of changes have taken place in the intervening years, including low energy light bulbs and rooftop solar panels. We can use the study’s findings to see how these have affected energy consumption.  This will assist us in evaluating further courses of action with the same goal in mind, as the original study.

In subsequent articles to this one we will deal in more detail with each technology in turn. We will also list the practical obstacles likely to be encountered including planning constraints, financial viability, public acceptance and grid connection. The last of these will require consultation with the District Network Operator to see what changes will be required to the Grid, while public consultation will be required to gain acceptance of new energy installations.

We need you to join us in the search for new sources of energy to power North Craven! We look forward to receiving some imaginative ideas and we will examine each potential project to ascertain its practicality and financial viability, before deciding which projects to progress.

Please watch this space for further articles on renewable energy technologies. If you want to get involved with us in this project please contact us through this website.


Bridge End Weir, Settle, site of one of England’s first Archimedean screw hydro turbines. Since commissioning in 2010 it has generated 900,000 kWh of electricity for the community.



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