Energy cartoon

EASY ENERGY and Money Saving Help

Ofgem’s energy price cap was planned to happen on 1st October 2022, a substantial increase from the previous price cap. This is worrying and is likely to lead to a very hard winter for many of us. Now is perhaps not a good time to switch energy supplier as they are all in the same situation and can’t offer a better deal at the moment. Simply the best way to reduce energy bills, is to use less, which means conserving energy in a variety of ways. We can stop wasting energy by helping to make our home more energy efficient and/or changing what we do to try and consume less.

Using less energy and saving on our heating bills makes sense financially and for the planet. Turning our heating down to 18 degrees (Considered to be the lowest temperature we need at home to maintain good health) can help save a considerable amount. Also, wearing warm clothes indoors and switching off any electrical items not in use like lights, TV, computers, consoles etc., will also cut down bills and energy use. (Although fridges and freezers should always be left on).

Below, we have gathered plenty of simple, cost-effective suggestions from a variety of sources, to help save energy at home and to stay warm this winter. This is not about major changes and expense like retrofitting the whole house or investing in solar panels and heat pumps - although they are all very important ways to save energy.

Image for energy fairMoorlands Climate Action held the first ever Energy Fair in the district on Sunday April 3rd at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek. Over 130 members of the public attended the free event, as well as 12 elected members of SMDC. They listened to a range of energy experts and users of renewable energy. Topics ranged from energy efficiency, new sources of domestic heating and water to community energy production. Here is a brief report on the day, including reactions from participants.

SPEAKERS AND PRESENTERS

James Aberley, Chair Climate Change Working Committee, SMDC – Opened the day by highlighting the need for collaboration across all sectors of the Moorlands and the need to ensure delivery of ambitions.

Laurie Duncan, Big Solar – demonstrated their app which allowed user-friendly analysis of solar footprint of any particular building

Dominic Swords, Hope Valley Renewables – outlined innovative early stage project to deliver renewable energy on Derbyshire Dales District Council-owned site. How this can keep more of the value created within the local community.

Solar panel farm Bishops Lydeard geograph.org.uk 2538248There are many myths about wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy, usually told by shadowy figures and organisations such as Lord Lawson's ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation’ that are funded by the fossil fuel industry. Such myths have been used by some SMDC councillors to prevent the establishment of wind turbines and solar farms in the Moorlands.

Misinformation like this has exacerbated the Climate Emergency that is now so obvious to all. Most supporters and beneficiaries of the fossil fuel industry do now admit to the reality of climate change but their current policy is to delay reaching net zero carbon as long as possible by proposing false technological solutions and expecting taxpayers to pay for them or to argue that aiming for Net Zero is too expensive. After 30 years of uncontroversial and accumulating scientific evidence, during which time the fossil fuel lobby used all sorts of dirty tricks to mislead the public, why should we be expected to give taxpayers’ money to these people to promote carbon capture & storage and hydrogen schemes that depend on fossil fuels, when renewables and their related technologies would be so much cheaper and also more efficient?

One of the scientific challenges of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, as SMDC promised us two years ago, is not energy production itself but ensuring that supply is matched to demand. That’s why  storage capacity is necessary - to store electricity generated at times of peak output and make it available for use at times when it’s needed but the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining, in other words, balancing the grid.

The drive for better storage comes from the need for motive power to transport people and goods.  This has brought down the price of lithium battery storage so much, it is now economic to attach battery storage to large solar farms, such as those proposed for the Moorlands. It also makes them cost-effective, as energy can then be sold at a higher price when demand is high, although the primary purpose of battery storage is to balance the grid.

England is particularly fortunate to have globally significant reserves of  lithium in Cornwall, with strong potential for extracting it economically as a

.

Energy can of course be stored in many ways.  Since the 1980s, there has been a large-scale pumped storage station at Dinorwig in Wales, with a hydro scheme operating to balance the grid. Another approach, planned for Cheshire, is to use an old salt producing area to store pressurised air underground. Perhaps in the distant future we will have a storage facility in the old salt area around Salt in Staffordshire.

Photo credit:  Solar-panel farm, Bishops Lydeard by Roger Cornfoot, Solar-panel farm, Bishops Lydeard - geograph.org.uk - 2538248, Cropped image, CC BY-SA 2.0

Moorlands Climate Action Energy Fair

The Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek  - Sunday, 3rd April

The UK energy landscape has already begun to change dramatically but that change has only just started. The shift away from coal has meant that UK emissions fell by 29% in the last decade. But that top level reduction needs to be accelerated if national and local authority Net Zero targets are to be met. A key part of that will be the encouragement of renewable generation at a local level

Houses account for 28% of UK emissions alone. The scale of the task was set out in the government’s recent Heat and Building Strategy. Perhaps 60% of UK housing stock is not fit for Net Zero. Retrofitting housing with new heat sources and insulation will involve a substantial effort on behalf of local authorities and communities. 

On April 3rd MCA will be hosting an Energy Fair in Leek dedicated to bringing together members of the public, experts, businesses, councils, and community groups in the area. The day will see a range of presentations and workshops from the Moorlands and beyond for a range of knowledge levels.

This event will be held in the centre of Leek on the same day as the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement market.

Admission is free but, if you should wish to book a place in advance, you can do so via Eventbrite.

10:25

10:30

11:45

13:00 

14:00

15:00

Welcome

Cllr James Aberley, Chair SMDC Climate Change Working Group

Community Energy Production 


10:30 - Community Energy Birmingham

11:00 - Power for People

11:30 - Hope Valley Renewables

Home insulation and retrofit 


11:45 - Red.Coop

12:05 - Sustainable Building Consultants

Video - Richard Waller, Keele University ‘The Smart Energy House of the Future’

Lunch


Stalls / Networking

Domestic / Personal Energy Production and Use 


14:00 - Experts on Ground and Air source heat pumps - a chance to have all your questions answered!

Panel Q&A


15:55 - Thanks

 

Upstairs in the Cabbage Rose workshop and the Rainbow Room there will be activities all day including miniature houses with solar panels, electrical circuits, demonstrations of static electricity,  windmills,  metal wire buzz games,  powered plasma globe and more.

 

 

Some hashtags for you to use leading up to and on the day: #MoorlandsClimateAction #MoorlandsClimateChange #MakeStaffordshireSustainable #TakeClimateAction  #SDG7 #SDG13 

BIG Solar V5As we all know, energy production and consumption are key issues facing the UK as it seeks to decarbonise. Here in the Moorlands, production opportunities seem limited, due to current planning restrictions, but there is still scope for both domestic and community electricity generation via solar installations and also to reduce carbon emissions via retrofit and insulation in our houses. Above all, there is a pressing need for information on the many and complex issues involved.

The Energy Fair we had planned for early February has had to be postponed due to Covid but we now plan to run it on Sunday 3rd April 2022, 10:00 till 16:00 at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek. In addition to a range of stalls covering relevant materials, we have invited specialist speakers to present on the three main themes:

1. Community Energy Production
2. House Insulation and Retrofit possibilities
3. Personal/Domestic Energy Production and Use

We’re also planning a range of hands-on activities for children and like-minded adults to comple-ment the ‘heavy’ stuff.

All being well, the thermal imaging camera that we had booked for the February event will be available on the new date but in any event we will still be able display thermal images of Moorlands buildings with different levels and types of insulation to help us decide on the ideal insulation for our own homes. The camera will be in the Moorlands from Fri 28th January till Tuesday 8th February, so do let us know if you would like images taken of your house. You can contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The absence of the feed-in tariff has led to a marked reduction of roof top solar installations on domestic building and the collapse of the "Green Deal" has delayed the time that Staffordshire Moorlands will become net zero. However, community solar energy is achievable in the Moorlands; it just requires local authorities, businesses, residents, etc. to be committed to taking advantage of the help that is available from cooperatives such as Big Solar. They are working to help communities get to net zero. An extract from their website is shown here.

"The Big Solar Co-op exists to make it possible for people to get solar built anywhere in the UK. Our work is led by volunteers, who we support in lots of different ways.

If you have a potential solar site to report, please tell us about it.

If you want to get solar rooftops built in your area ASAP, we can train you up to find potential sites, assess them and approach the owners.

If you are part of an existing community group there are several ways in which we can work together to get more solar built in your area."

The majority of council owned buildings in the Moorlands have been surveyed already but industrial sites and care homes have not. If you know the owners or tenants of buildings with large roofs, please put them in touch with the Big Solar Coop.

Picture credit: Carla Sam (https://carlasam.com). .

powerhouse2The good news is that there are many community groups throughout the country who are working to install community renewable energy to benefit both the local community and future generations. The nearest one to Leek is the hydro project at Havannah Weir, near Congleton, that’s operated by an Archimedes Screw turbine that feeds power to the grid, plus the local Siemens factory, and was instigated by Congleton Sustainability. They were fortunate that they got some funding from the feed-in tariff before the government abolished it in favour of large grants to the fossil fuel and nuclear industry for very expensive Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and nuclear power stations. As a result, small community developments are only economically viable if they can sell their electricity to a large daytime user, such as a factory, school or nursing home. You can find out more at the Congleton Hydro Project and see a video of Archie, their Archimedes Screw being installed. Here's the latest image of Archie up and running. Thanks to Paul Hopewell for providing it.

Archie 1Despite the absence of hydro possibilities here, Staffordshire Moorlands could still work towards becoming self-sufficient in energy if all buildings were upgraded to a high standard of insulation. At present there are insufficient trained craftsmen to do the job and we hope that the County Council will make training and incentives two of their main priorities. To become truly self-sufficient, we also need both wind and solar power at community scale, which unfortunately is largely prevented by the current local plan. To achieve our carbon pledges, it is vitally important that ALL levels of government, from parish upwards, collaborate fully with the many civil organisations and businesses who are actively working to build renewable energy schemes and retrofit our stock of buildings. Only by doing so, will we reach net Zero Carbon by 2050.

With this in mind, Moorlands Climate Action is organising an Energy Fair for April 2022, when we plan to have experts on retrofitting existing buildings and renewable energy to answer your questions, along with other displays and presentations. We are looking for local contacts, so if you have any who may be interested, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..