Hydrogen is currently being widely promoted as the conveniently portable and green alternative to fossil fuels. It is also attractive as an alternative to natural gas (methane) in cookers and boilers, since transition from one form of gas to another would be simpler than converting to electric. Whether it is truly green depends on how it is produced. The greenest method (electrolysis, as illustrated in the very simplified image here) passes an electric current through water (H2O) to separate hydrogen (H2) from oxygen (O2). In the existing method ‘grey’ hydrogen is made by reacting methane (CH4) with water, with the by-product CO2 being simply allowed to escape. The idea of capturing this and storing it to produce so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen is what the government is currently promoting. However this has not yet been achieved at an industrial scale.

Big Solar logo

There is a lot of untapped potential for generating electricity from photovoltaics in the Moorlands and until now it has been very difficult to encourage organisations to make best use of their roofs, especially those facing in the right directions.  However, despite the loss of the Feed-in-Tariff, which had previously made such installations economically attractive, there are some heroic organisations trying to ensure that solar installation will continue and expand.  One of these is the Big Solar Co-op, funded by Share Energy, who are able to estimate annual generating potential (kWh) from aerial surveillance.  MCA has had information from them on the roofs of three SMDC buildings, which we have shared with council officers, and we hope they will take note of them:  Brough Park Leisure Centre (55,304 kWh pa), Moorland House (30,320 kWh pa) and offices beside Leek’s recycling centre (19,734 kWh pa).

Solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems to generate electricity are more popular (but see sections on grants and economics) and becoming more affordable. They consist of large panels mounted on frames, either on a roof or near the ground and, for residential properties, generally do not require planning permission. The output from panels can be connected to the mains, via an inverter and control equipment, or can be stored in battery arrays for off grid properties or to even out supply and demand. South facing locations are preferred and shading from trees or other buildings can dramatically reduce output, even if only a small part of the array is shaded. Current regulations permit a maximum of 3.6kW of micro-generated electricity to be connected to a single phase of the grid and installation must be certified by a registered professional installer.
Wind power is a good energy source in the right location and wind turbines range from small direct drive turbines, typically 5kW maximum output, to large geared

Draught proofing
Cold draughts are easy to detect and simple measures will deal with many. Door and window seals are cheap and effective – replace them if they are damaged. Suspended wooden floors are usually ventilated with air bricks beneath and gaps between boards or around walls may admit cold draughts. The airflow to joists is needed to prevent rot but draughtproofing or insulating boards may be possible.

Remember that any fuel burning appliances in the house need an adequate air supply so think carefully before making a house airtight. Dedicated air inlets from outside are one solution for stoves etc. Some airflow is also needed to remove the atmospheric moisture from cooking, washing and even breathing, so airtight buildings need proper re-cycling, de-humidifier and heat recovery systems.

Roof insulation
Traditional roof insulation consisted of a relatively thin layer of mineral wool laid across the loft floor. This is totally inadequate and a cheap and simple solution is to add