The first public meeting of Edale Energy was held in Edale Village Hall on 28 March 2023. 30 Edale residents attended. The following is a summary of Joanna Collins’ minutes and Tom Noel’s survey of public opinion in Edale.
Sarah Eldridge described how the group had begun informally to discuss the possibility of developing community energy in Edale and making buildings more energy efficient (retrofitting) and that the meeting is for everyone to give their ideas.
Edale Energy Steering Group
Sarah Eldridge: is interested in what she can do in her own house. She’d visited Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, where they have a village-wide ground source heat pump system. This got her thinking about what might be possible in Edale, so she arranged a first meeting of the informal group.
Joanna Collins: is interested in all aspects of carbon reduction, including energy efficiency and renewables. She is not a techie but has some knowledge of the political landscape and of project management.
Andrew Critchlow: farms in Edale and works at the NFU. The NFU is very interested in renewables, and his office advises farmers on renewables. He knows farmers who have solar and hydro generation on their land.
Tom Noel: decided to get involved when he saw the cost of his last oil order. He thinks working in a group is a better way to learn and put pressure on authorities.
Royston Sellman: has been interested in renewable energy for a long time, worked on domestic energy and for 4 years did research at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol. He is a techie ie understands the numbers.
Jon Whitley: trained as a mechanical engineer and is now doing a Masters in renewable energy systems technology. He hopes to do his dissertation on community energy in Edale, creating a model for community engagement in energy projects.
Steve Platt: lives in Hathersage and is Treasurer of Hope Valley Climate Action s sell as working on community energy. He is director of a consultancy which, among other things, looks at energy efficiency in buildings.
Results of survey of Edale residents (Tom Noel)
The survey was circulated to the 130 homes in Edale and 58 people responded. See full survey report.
Home heating, insulation and retrofit
Half the homes are detached, and three-quarters (72%) were built before 1900. This means they pose problems for retrofit. Edale is off grid for gas. Heating is with Oil (50%), LPG (16%), Wood (50%), Coal (21%). Many were unsure of their electricity consumption, but among those who knew, consumption is high, generally over 5500 kWh per year.
Most homes have inadequate Insulation and draft-proofing. 16% reported having good insulation levels and 28% reported have reasonable or good draught-proofing. Only a third of homes have double or triple glazing. Clearly there is huge scope for improvement in energy efficiency.
10% of homes have roof solar and 40% are considering it. Similar proportions apply for heat pumps.
Domestic solar was liked by 72%; Non-domestic solar by 86%; Ground-mounted solar arrays by 69%; Small wind turbines by 71%; and Single large wind turbines by 67%.
These preferences are very similar to those found by HVCA’s survey of 675 residents which found that 89% liked Domestic roof solar; 67% liked Solar Arrays; 68% liked Small turbines and 59% liked Single large turbines.
See HVCA’s Renewables Survey
The key barriers are Cost (57%) Lack of information (76%) and Uncertainty about planning (43%).
Comments covered the following, among other things.
- Urgent action needed to secure our children’s future.
- Helping vulnerable and isolated people, who may not be able to contribute to the project.
- Planning issues in conservation area and on listed buildings.
- Impact on farm livelihoods and food security.
- More information needed to make informed choices.
- Who would pay, would there be a profit? Could returns support community investment.
- Involving the National Trust.
Edale Community Energy background (Royston Sellman)
Community energy is hard to do. The future depends on government policy.
How much energy do we use in Edale? – About 150 households (no one seems to know exactly)
- About 0.5 GWh of electricity per annum
- About 2 GWh equivalent of heating oil/LPG /Other
- Current annual cost £350k – £400k –
- ~300kW – Equivalent to 2 powerful cars, flat out, all the time
How much energy will we use in Edale?
- The government assumes by 2050 most energy will be from electricity & zero carbon (but this is doubtful under current policy)
- The 0.5 GWh for lighting, cooking etc stays same.
- 0 GWh of oil or LPG → 0.6 GWh electricity due to efficiency of e.g. heat pumps & insulation
- Overall annual consumption down to about 1.1 GWh of zero carbon electricity
- ~130kW: Equivalent to one average car, flat out, all the time
What’s possible in Edale – generation.
Bigger is more effective, but all renewable options have their own problems.
- Solar PV: 5 or 6 hectares of solar panels would cover current needs.
- Edale has about 2 hectares of house and barn roof
- Wind turbine: One medium size turbine on a hill could power 8 Edales.
Regarding solar vs wind, wind provides a more stable reliable supply throughout the year.
- Small (Hydro, Biomass, Ground Source, Water Source) is relatively insignificant or would not work well in Edale. The river Noe would produce more energy through heat pumps than hydro.
What’s possible in Edale: Efficiency
- Improve the efficiency of our mostly old, cold and holed homes, and our heating, but retrofit is difficult!
- Heat pumps are complex, expensive, problematic.
- Can we share learning? What advice works?
- New build in Edale is hard due to planning restrictions.
- Save money.
- Save the planet.
- Be warmer in winter.
- Energy security
- Importantly, Influence policy: local, national and beyond. Grassroots organisations can influence energy suppliers as well as different levels of government.
Question: Why not just have one wind turbine to cover all needs?
Retrofit (Jon Whitley)
Jon moved into an old cottage which was habitable but needed work. He was lucky that, due to his experience and time, he was able to do the work himself. He fitted internal wall insulation (Kingspan) mostly 50 mm to external walls with 25mm on some internal walls and around windows. The plaster was removed in places.
He was concerned that the house would seem smaller but with smoother walls and other changes the rooms seem bigger, and the house is much warmer.
The oil tank was replaced with an air source heat pump, which is quiet. A company advised that the house needed a twin heat pump but as Jon did not want the house to be 25⁰ he installed a single pump. He advised that it is difficult to find contractors and they cannot always be believed.
Knight Frank estate agents say that retrofitting and hence improving your EPC rating can increase the value of your home by 20%. A higher EPC rating can also make it easier to get a mortgage.
Jon can advise on retrofitting and advises using a retrofit coordinator. He can help with planning a project.
The group can point people to further information and will look at compiling a trusted trader directory.
Question Are there problems of breathability.
There is no air circulation behind timbers and ventilation is via heat exchangers (not expensive).
The wider context (Steve Platt)
To deal with the climate emergency:
- we need to fix our heat-leaky homes, and
- we need to power our homes with green, home-grown energy.
The Government has pledged to more than halve carbon emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050. The strategy for achieving this includes electrifying home heating and vehicles. So we’ll need more electricity, a nation-wide energy efficiency programme, and roll-out of on-shore wind.
Last year, HVCA’s Energy Group conducted an energy feasibility study. They calculated that we will need two to three times as much electricity by 2050 – domestic electricity demand in Hope Valley will rise from 23 to 60 GWh. Non-domestic demand will increase by a similar amount. Carbon emissions are much less under the Best-Case Scenario, which includes retrofitting our homes to a much higher standard of energy efficiency and moving to non-fossil fuel vehicles.
Renewables to generate the electricity to power our homes would be a mix of wind and solar. Hydro can only play a minor role since the total potential across the whole of the Peak is at most 1.5 Mw.
One mix of renewables that would go a long way to meeting our domestic energy needs would be solar panels on 1 in 3 residential roofs, 2 large solar arrays and 3-5 large wind turbines. Because of inadequate grid infrastructure here, we would also need storage to cope with fluctuations in demand and supply.
HVCA conducted a survey of pubic opinion in January this year. 675 people responded, 400 live in Hope Valley, 100 elsewhere in the Peak and the rest are visitors. The survey covered renewables, energy saving, retrofitting homes and electric vehicles.
The main finding is that 61% of all respondents are prepared to consider large-scale renewables in the Peak Park; 25% might consider them and 13% said no. Solar panels on houses and non-domestic roofs was liked by 90% of respondents. Two-thirds are in favour of ground-based or floating solar arrays and small wind turbines. And 59% of respondents like single large wind turbines. There was little difference in opinion by age or locality. Three-quarters of respondents are in favour of large-scale renewables in Hope Valley being owned and managed by a Community Benefit Society.
- large scale renewables are prohibited in national parks.
- The electricity grid will need reinforcing to cope with renewables.
Overcoming barriers involves dialogue with the Peak Park and the Distribution Network Operators to manage the policy and infrastructure changes we need. We need to work with other climate groups to develop a shared vision and lobby for change.
HVCA is working with residents of Abney on a feasibility study of energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation. They plan to do energy efficiency surveys for each home, identify local installers, start a mini training programme and be ready to roll as soon as the government introduces a national retrofit programme. On generation, they will commission a feasibility study of wind and solar and develop proposals for installing solar panels and small turbines.
There have been three public meetings in Abney, using the model of community engagement developed by the CPRE in Loftus, near Middlesborough. 24 of the 25 households in Abney support the endeavour. Starting with Abney made sense because it’s off-gas and is one of the smallest villages in Hope Valley. Abney becoming self-sufficient in electricity and making homes more energy efficient could be a model for Hope Valley and the rest of the Peak District. Abney and Edale could be catalysts for change.
Question The prejudice against wind turbines – how can you change people’s minds?
Steve This is changing, among visitors and residents.
Royston No-one really knows how opposed the public are. Evidence suggests they are in favour, especially of community renewables. Wind turbines down at valley floor level would produce far less energy than hilltop sites
Question Once renewables are installed, what happens, how are they connected?
Royston Large scale renewables would probably have to connect to the national grid and sell the electricity they produce to it. However the price the grid pays is generally much lower than the price they charge consumers. Alternatively we could store the electricity in batteries or by generating hydrogen for fuel cells, and then use it ourselves. This would produce more income but at a higher capital expenditure and greater complexity and economic uncertainty,
Question Do wind turbines need access roads? If so, wouldn’t installation, access and maintenance disrupt nature and the landscape?
Royston Yes. Every turbine installation I have seen has access roads. Renewables are not cost-free but have less impact than, for example, a power station. Birds don’t tend to fly into wind turbines (as people thought they might).
Jon solar arrays can encourage biodiverse habitats to develop under them.
Question what does a wind turbine cost?
Royston 1 MW costs around £1 million.
Question Could you tell us more about water source heat pumps.
Royston the temperature of the water is never below zero, so it is possible to extract heat from it. However, currently water source heat pumps are custom designed.
Jon they would be small so would not pump heat efficiently.
Question All hamlets have the Noe close by so would it be possible to have a series of small water source units?
Royston Yes but see above.
Question How big would the river have to be?
Royston where the river is small eg at Grindsbrook, it would not work. The Mill may be more possible.
It is not worth chasing hydro but could look at water source heat.
Question How do farmers feel about renewables?
Andrew There are not many large barns in Edale, and it costs as much to connect to the grid or buy battery storage as the initial outlay on solar panels. There is a lot of interest but problems with financial payback, especially here, since Edale farmers are not large energy users. Farmers need direct grants, and the distribution network operators are not helping. Farmers would say yes to solar if they received an income from it. The Peak Park may well change policy regarding solar on roofs.
Question This all sounds pessimistic. What door would open easiest regarding larger-scale generation?
Jon, Royston It is all aspirational now, until there are changes at national level.
Question The Peak Park and National Trust seem to be obstacles. The NT needs to be brought in
Steve the Peak Park is not necessarily an obstacle. They are constrained by legislation. Hope Valley villages can push the Peak Park.
Question Why have ground source heat pumps been pushed out of consideration?
Royston expertise says that Edale is too spread out. There could be separate ones for clusters of houses, but air source is more efficient in Edale.
Andrew Vertical ground source heat pumps are possible but are very expensive.
Question Why are people negative about air source heat pumps?
Tom People don’t understand how they work or potential savings.
Joanna There are still myths and inconsistent information about them. People who have them usually like them, but they can be expensive to run, depending on how they are used. They are expensive to install, and grants are complicated. This makes them inaccessible to some people ie there is a problem of equity without a more encouraging grants system.
Steve We haven’t talked about money enough eg Germany gives grants to individuals and there are patchy grants for change here, but a full retrofit is expensive.
Royston the financial climate is not beneficial. But this group can share expertise, give advice and point people to trusted traders and other information, including on grants.
Tom there is value in working as a small village, deciding on the journey together, then pushing at pressure points including political
Andrew Hurdles are important to demonstrate to policy makers and others that, although we have expertise, we still have problems. Pressure has to be from the grassroots as well as top down – and has to be local because Edale is off-grid. Local energy can be more cost effective, and Edale already attracts attention. Lobby everyone!
Sarah asked if people would support the group continuing investigating what’s possible community wide. The answer from the meeting was a definite “yes”. There was a sign-up sheet for people who want to be involved and/or have useful skills. Thanks to the panel and all participants.