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Many community groups are working together to find sustainable energy solutions for the residents in their area.
Schools, local businesses and all manner of community groups are investing in energy related opportunities and technologies. They are forging links between different facets of society and across a variety of locations, where energy creation and supply is in the hands of the local community, and the people who actually use it have the opportunity to control their own energy future and requirements.
This may look like a vision of the future but it is fast becoming a reality, the Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has set out a vision for a more radical, greener, and local approach to energy generation, where local groups are being encouraged to develop energy projects ranging from individual domestic installations to small scale networks capable of generating heat and electricity to meet the energy needs of small communities.
Groups taking up this challenge are recognising the many benefits of community energy, including:
- the ability to set up purchasing agreements with suppliers to provide cost-effective installation of technologies for community networks;
- projects at community facilities (schools or information centres) backed by local authorities;
- reduced electricity costs when a community dwellings heat is generated with 'combined heat and power' (CHP) technology;
- more space in each dwelling with communal heating, since the boiler and hot water cylinder is replaced by a compact unit which can then heat a whole building;
- the opportunity to outsource the provision of energy services to a specialist and reduce maintenance costs;
- flexibility to use a variety of complementary technologies in the same building;
- greater overall energy efficiency and therefore reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
Help is to be offered in the form of the Green Deal, which is due to be rolled out in October 2012, and is designed to help improve the energy efficiency and insulation levels in our homes, schools and businesses by offering up-front loans, whereby the repayments would be attached to the utility bill.
One key feature of the scheme is that repayment amounts would always be less than the cost of estimated savings, so energy bills would not rise as a result.
Installing low carbon and renewable energy technologies would also lower our carbon emissions, and these new technologies will help to reduce distribution losses by using local and sustainable energy resources to generate heat or electricity from waste, biomass and industrial processes.
A real life example
Ashton Hayes in Cheshire which has a population of around 1000 residents is aiming to become England's first carbon neutral village, and have taken an innovative approach to the efficient use and control of small scale energy generation, in order to take control of their carbon footprint.
The residents have undertaken activities such as switching old light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, and with support from Carbon Connections have also created a rural micro-grid, installing solar and wind power to supply electricity needs and changed their behaviour when it comes to recycling.
The Carbon Connections Development Fund is managed by the University of East Anglia and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It has been set up to support organisations with innovative projects for carbon reduction.
More information for communities looking at ways to become more energy efficient can be found at the Department of Energy and Climate Changes (DECC) Community Energy Online Portal.
Saving Energy in your Home.co.uk is committed to helping residents of the UK bridge the energy gap by offering free information regarding energy savings which can be made around your home.
As well as a range of renewable sources to generate your electricity and heating needs, carefully balancing the requirements of low-carbon emissions, security of supply and affordability. http://www.savingenergyinyourhome.co.uk/greendealscheme.html
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