Germany and Denmark both generate around 25% of their renewable energy from community-owned and cooperative schemes. So let’s get cracking in Calderdale.
What’s Calderdale Council doing?
Calderdale Council’s Calderdale’s Energy Future (CEF) strategy, which came into effect on 1st April 2012, proposes that the Council and its partners in the Strategy will support community renewable schemes by:
- aiming to find money and provide support (CEF Strategy p24)
- supporting a number of exemplar community renewable schemes as a pilot for future projects (CEF Strategy ps 18 & 28)
- “help(ing) to enable community-owned schemes that cut carbon such as renewable energy installations, district heating schemes and woodland development” (CEF Strategy, p23)
- identifying suitable sites and providing support and guidance for getting community renewable schemes up and running.(ps 23 & 18)
Four community-owned wind farms?
Calderdale Community Energy – a new Energy Services Company
Calderdale Community Energy, a new Energy Services Company (ESCo) run by Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre in partnership with Calderdale Council, aims to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in Calderdale. Calderdale Community Energy will:
- provide technical, legal and financial advice to local communities – for example, on new site development, setting up a community energy group and reaching agreement with landowners and utilities
- set up a revolving fund to channel money from developed community energy schemes into new renewable energy development and energy efficiency schemes
- promote the benefits of renewable energy and assess the potential capacity for renewable energy in Calderdale
- secure additional finance for community renewable energy projects
- develop skills through training and practical experience, leading to employment opportunities
- administer a brokerage service for the sale of energy from renewable energy systems
Bristol’s example of a community renewables revolving loan fund
Energy4All is a Cumbria- based coop, advising on how to set up Community-owned renewable energy schemes.
Community renewable schemes in the Upper Calder Valley
Pennine Community Power – a Community Benefit Society
Blackshawhead Environmental Action Team’s (BEAT) offshoot Pennine Community Power has set up a 10kW community wind turbine that will generate enough electricity for 3-8 households and produce an annual income for the community of £4K-£14K/year for 20 years. Pennine Community Power (PCP) is a Community Benefit Society that received received a £30K grant to part-fund the installation of the wind turbine, and raised the remaining £30K through a Community Share Offer.
Community Benefit Societies are:
incorporated industrial and provident societies (IPS) that conduct business for the benefit of their community. Profits are not distributed among members, or external shareholders, but returned to the community.(Business Link)
For anyone interested in launching & marketing community share offers, there’s useful info here.
Dog Bottom micro-hydro
The latest news (August 2012) about this project is that although Hebden Bridge Transition Town has withdrawn from the project, Blackshawhead Environmental Action Team has been working with the Windsor Road residents’ association in Hebden Bridge to develop a 15 kW hydro project on their land at Mills Pond.
Paul and Finn from BEAT had a meeting with three members of the residents association on 11th July. The meeting agreed that BEAT will draft a lease between BEAT and the residents association/ the land owners. The draft lease is going out for a six-week consultation with all the local residents.
BEAT and Hebden Bridge Transition Town (HBTT) Energy Group had previously organised a pre-feasibility survey for the community micro hydro scheme on Hebden Water, at Dog Bottom. The Alternative Technology Centre Pre-Feasibility Survey estimates that it will cost £100K to get the Dog Bottom microhydro project up and running.
Power from the Landscape is based at Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre. It aims “to provide information, advice and practical help to potential micro hydro site owners/groups (and interested parties) that enable them to develop plans for micro hydro generation in the South Pennines.”
Power from the Landscape is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, to install turbines at 8 sites in the area.
Schools and community renewable energy schemes are eligible for Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments for the electricity they produce – although the UK coalition government has put a limit of 50kW on renewable installations that are eligible for FiTs, making it uneconomic for some planned solar electricity (pv) schemes for schools and communities to go ahead.
The Renewable Heat Incentive is kind of like the FIT, except it will be paid for out of public funding rather than by the energy companies, and it is a subsidy for biomass heat and power. It will pay people for producing heat and power from biomass (eg new and waste wood, energy crops, waste from farms, industry, households etc). However, many people and organisations dispute the usefulness and value of biomass heat and power for various reasons, including:
- the length of time it takes for new trees to absorb carbon emissions from burning biomass
- the effect on food production of using land for biomass production
- air pollution and nuisance from smells and smoke from burning biomass.
Calderdale Council is installing biomass boilers in six Calderdale primary schools. The biomass boilers will more than pay for themselves out of income from the Renewable Heat Incentive.
If you’re interested in setting up a community renewable scheme…
You can download a free copy of the Rough Guide to renewable energy.
Apparently there are nine steps in setting up a community renewable scheme:
- find a site with enough wind, water flow or sun to generate the amount of energy you need ( the pre-feasibility survey stage)
- unless the community group already owns the land, find out who owns it and if they’ll give you permission (this is the stage the Dog Bottom micro hydro project is currently at)
- talk to the neighbours and find out what they think about the idea
- find out about connecting to the National Grid to sell your surplus energy and get Feed in Tariff payments
- find out if the site is protected for environmental, heritage, scientific or any other reasons
- find out if there’s suitable access for installing and maintaining the generators
- get planning permission
- find out if there are any other limitations or problems at the site
- arrange finance and assess the risks