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.
Feasibility study in Hope Valley 2022
In 2022, HVCA’s Energy Group conducted an Energy Study. We set ourselves 3 simple questions.
1 How much electricity will we need in Hope Valley?
2 What mix of renewables would meet this demand?
3 What do residents and visitors think about large-scale renewables in the Peak?
We tested 3 scenarios and calculated that by 2050 in Hope Valley domestic demand will rise from 23 to 60 GWh. That means we will need two to three times as much electricity. Crucially, carbon emissions and energy costs are much less under the Best Case Scenario, which involves retrofitting our homes to a much higher standard of energy efficiency and moving to non-fossil fuel vehicles. That’s what we are aiming for in Hope Valley. On renewables, a sensible mix of wind and solar could generate this amount of electricity and make us largely self-sufficient. Solar on 1 in 3 roofs, five large wind turbines on Bradwell Moor and two large solar arrays would deliver this electricity. We will also need a better connection to the grid and storage to cope with fluctuations in demand and supply.
To gauge public opinion we conducted a survey in January this year. 675 people responded. 400 live in Hope Valley, 100 elsewhere in the Peak and the rest are visitors. About half are members of a climate group. Only a third think their home is well insulated. If a grant covered half the cost, two-thirds would seriously consider insulating their homes properly.
On generation, our 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. Roof top solar is liked by nearly all respondents. Two-thirds are in favour of small wind turbines and ground-based or floating solar arrays. And 59% of respondents like large wind turbines. There was little difference in opinion by age or where people live.
What are the barriers to this happening? Currently, there is little or no funding for retrofit. In September the Government announced its Help to Heat strategy that will provide £1.5billion to improve energy efficiency, but this will only benefit around 130,000 low-income households. Large scale renewables are prohibited in national parks. The electricity grid will need reinforcing to cope with the increase in renewable generation. And we need the Local Electricity Bill to become law to make community power viable, for example by allowing community benefit societies to act as local suppliers.
To test and demonstrate what we are proposing, HVCA is working with residents of Abney, one of the smallest settlements in Hope Valley on energy efficiency and renewables. In outline, we intend to commission energy assessments and produce a plan for every home. This would identify quick wins and major retrofit that will need funding. We will calculate energy demand and commission a feasibility study of wind and solar. We will educate ourselves, identify local installers, make plans 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.
We held our first public meeting in the Village Hall last month. Members of 14 households attended the first meeting, all expressing a desire to be involved and 9 of the remaining 10 household who were unable to attend have already expressed an interest in participating in the project. Brian Taylor, Chief Planning Officer for the NPA, was at the meeting and was encouraging. People introduced themselves and talked briefly about their homes and what needed doing to make them more energy efficient. We then talked about what people cherish about Abney and how it might change for the better.