A programme to help communities across the Highlands to devise their own local energy plan has been launched. The Community Benefit of Civic Energy programme is administered by Local Energy Scotland and aims to strengthen community energy in at least four places that lie within the Highlands & Islands Enterprise region. In each selected area, a local energy plan will draw together local aspirations and priorities and take a ‘whole system’ approach to consider power, energy storage, heat, transport, demand reduction and management as well as considering the implications for the energy infrastructure and potential. The closing date by which you must provide initial information to Local Energy Scotland is 31 May 2017. What is a Local Energy Plan? A local energy plan is a document that draws together local ambitions and energy/heat opportunities, then plans for the future. Local Energy Scotland view the plans as being dynamic and flexible documents that may be presented in a variety of formats, including electronic, interactive web pages.
The UK’s only wind-powered hydrogen station opened today, off the M1 near Rotherham. It means cars powered by hydrogen – the Toyota Mirai and Hyndai FCV ix35 – can be fuelled and drive to London and back to Yorkshire without the need for re-fuelling. The plant, which has its own wind turbine, will be produce green hydrogen on site, taking power from either the turbine or grid. Water will be added and put through stacks of electrolysis fuel cells, which split the H from the O.
Alan Simpson: During the election campaign Elon Musk launched his domestic-scale battery storage system for home-produced electricity. It doesn’t matter whether this turns out to be the ultimate answer or not. It is a game changer. Marketed in conjunction with WalMart in the US, and partnering with Lichtblick in Germany, Musk aims to turn “storage” into the same mass-market product that solar has become. No less significant was the Fraunhofer Institute’s launch of its “plug and play” solar roofs, that can be installed in an hour and at a cost of around £1/watt. Sod your everlasting subsidies to nuclear. Sod your obsessions with oil and fracking. Sod the market mechanisms that (expensively) prop up old energy cartels. This is already a past more likely to turn up in car boot sales than in successful economies. The biggest changes in tomorrow’s energy systems aren’t even waiting for politicians. Soon homes will have generation and storage systems that are as “normal” as central heating. We will be heading away from today’s centralised energy cartels and into a different era of energy democracies. Add to this the technology partnerships across Germany (and in Manchester!) that are creating local power “systems” (virtual power plants) to serve whole towns and cities, and you begin to get a picture of a different energy economics — one that will deliver massive increases in employment, energy security and interconnectedness. Clean “heat” networks will follow next. And within it all, communities will compete around reduced carbon footprints and lower consumption. At a lower-tech level, we will also begin to grasp what Oxford researchers recently told us — that the best carbon capture and storage technologies already exist. They are called soil and trees.
Dave Pearson, former Director of Innovation of Glasgow-based Star Refrigeration – the UK’s largest industrial refrigeration contractor who now leads the specialist subsidiary Star Renewable Energy – will tell the remarkable story of the Drammen heat-pump renewable energy scheme before an international energy conference today (22 April). In 2009, Glasgow based Star Renewable Energy was the first company in the world to offer a city-sized heat pump at 90C using a natural working fluid, ammonia. Heat pumps cool one fluid and transfer this heat to another fluid but at higher temperature using only a fraction of the primary energy. In the case of Drammen, in Norway, the Glasgow team harvest heat from the fjord and cool it by 4 degrees. In doing so they deliver enough heat for 6,000 houses to a district heating network. Norway town generates 85% of its heat for 1/7th cost of gas – without emissions – thanks to Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy.