An HVCA project to support Abney with renewable energy
Abney is a small village in Hope Valley of 25 houses. Many are stone-built and difficult to insulate, so keeping homes warm during winter is problematic. The village is off-grid, so doesn’t have its own gas supply.
With the growing need to move away from oil and gas, the community in Abney asked the question: Could we generate our own renewable energy to power our village?
A global emergency that needs local solutions
This pressing question comes at a time when a nationwide energy efficiency programme is needed to begin to address the climate emergency. We’ll need a roll-out of onshore wind generation and an end to oil and gas expansion. The UK Government has pledged to more than halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and to get to net zero by 2050. The strategy for achieving this includes electrifying our home heating and vehicles. So, we’ll need more electricity. What we can’t do is wait for the Government to take the lead – we must fend for ourselves and set an example.
A community together
We approached the residents of Abney to discuss the idea of becoming the first village in the Valley to generate and rely on its own renewable energy supply. “The first step was to listen to what people cherish about Abney and what we must protect,” says Steve Platt, Green Energy lead at HVCA. “We wanted to hear views about energy and whether everyone wanted to be part of this exciting project.
“Residents said they were keen to explore how energy efficiency for their homes and renewable electricity generation could act as a model for the rest of the Valley. The vision for Regenerative Abney is to work collectively as a community to benefit from economies of scale and mutual encouragement and support.”
HVCA coordinated two meetings for residents at Abney village hall with experts in retrofitting stone homes and renewable energy. The next step is to carry out energy assessments and retrofit guidelines for each home, which will include quick wins and major recommendations. Households will each receive personalised recommendations for their home.
“We’ll calculate energy demand and commission a feasibility study of wind and solar,” says Steve. “We’ll identify local installers, start a mini training programme and be ready to roll as soon as the government introduces a national retrofit programme. All this will need dialogue with the National Park Authorities and the Distribution Network Operators to make it happen.”
Taking the lead
The aim of the project is to provide a model for retrofitting homes and providing renewable energy in Hope Valley. “We plan to educate ourselves and demonstrate how villages can save energy and become more self-sufficient,” says Steve.
The project aims to support residents of Abney and communities in Hope Valley to:
- Promote positive behaviour of energy saving and renewable electricity generation
- To be green and sustainable
- To work communally, rather than individually, to address the climate emergency and to deliver community benefits of lower energy costs, healthier homes, greater comfort, and a resilient renewable energy supply.
In 7 years’ time, by 2030, we expect a significant proportion of the homes in Abney will have implemented efficiency measures and installed renewable infrastructure.
We will produce an accessible report that summarises the lessons from Abney and provides a template for homes in the rest of the Valley. We will also produce a video of the project to encourage other settlements and communities in Hope Valley and the Peak District to follow suit.
The future Hope Valley
The benefits of projects like Regenerative Abney are significant, says Steve. “If a third of households retrofitted their homes to EPC B or C and changed from fossil fuel to renewables the potential carbon saving is huge. The multiplier effect, in terms of project costs to investment outcome, could potentially be in the order 10-20 times.
“Regenerative Abney could be highly influential throughout Hope Valley and the Peak District by improving home energy efficiency and making us more energy resilient. The project aims to provide advice and support to homeowners in Abney to help overcome some of the barriers to retrofit and renewables.
“Lessons from Abney could provide a model for other rural settlements in Hope Valley and the Peak District. These lessons would not only be technical, but we’d learn how a community can cooperate to achieve change and make significant progress in addressing the climate change and fuel cost issues of energy efficiency and electricity generation and storage.”
How we’ll measure success
HVCA will work with residents to quantitatively measure the change in energy performance of the homes in Abney, using standard EPC rating. We will report the change in annual energy consumption and report the amount of renewable energy generated locally.
We will share a report from the project on the HVCA website and, using Google Analytics, track the number of visits to the Regenerative Abney project page and number of downloads of our report.
It’s anticipated the project will take 12 months to complete.
Schedule of events and project timeline
2. First workshop – inception
25 Oct 2022
3. Second workshop – energy efficiency
6 Dec 2022
4. Third workshop – renewables
20 Mar 2023
5. Fourth workshop – planning
6. Home energy efficiency assessments
7. Renewals feasibility / options study
8. Visit Sarah Dines MP
9. Report (Steve Platt)
Would you like to find out more?
The Steering Group for Regenerative Abney includes residents Mark Everard, Trustee of Abney Village Hall, Ed Westgate, Chair of Abney Parish Meeting, and Trustees from HVCA including Steve Platt and Mandy Holden. For more information about the project, please contact Steve by email: Hopevalleyclimateaction@gmail.com