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The UK has a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050

There are 2 ways of affecting emissions:

  • To capture as much carbon as possible, e.g. by planting trees, seaweed farming, land restoration.
  • To reduce the amount of emissions being created e.g. by moving to renewable energy.

This page and project focuses on how we can impact and reduce our emissions locally.

In February we held an open meeting on energy and had a presentation from Poppy Maltby from the not-for-profit sustainable energy consultancy ReGen. The notes below are from her presentation. There are website links at bottom of the page to this and other useful organisations.

What you can do…

These are easy wins for Energy that we can all do:

  • Use less
  • Be more efficient
  • Consume renewable and off-peak
  • Switch to green electricity suppliers – Ecotricity and Good Energy are the only true green suppliers

Other things you can do:

  • Improve home insulation and efficiency measures
  • Rooftop solar panels
  • Electric vehicles
  • Travel less & take public transport more
  • Heat pumps
  • Live upside down – bedrooms downstairs, living space upstairs
  • Don’t fly
  • Smart thermostats

53% of CO2  in the UK comes from petrol, diesel and residential gas use.

The plan for net-zero:

1.Decarbonise electricity with renewable generation (and perhaps a bit more nuclear power). We need 4 times as much renewable energy produced by 2050. The Dorset Coast is particularly good for wind power generation.

2.Storage, electrolysis and hydrogen to manage variability.

3.Electrify transport.

4.Electrify heating.

5. BUT – it is critical first to minimise what we use.

Energy sub-group

This sub-group was set up in the spring of 2020 and includes representatives from parishes outside Swanage. The group’s aim is to find energy solutions that enable communities across Purbeck to reduce their carbon footprint. It is currently exploring how to increase the production and use of local renewable energy. Watch this space.

Local stories

Swanage School

The solar panels at Swanage School were installed in August 2016 by Dorset Community Energy , a not for-profit Community Benefit Society. The school has saved a total of £20,000 in solar electricity since 2016. All maintenance and insurance costs are covered by Dorset Community Energy through income from the Feed-in Tariff and selling a small amount of export.

The finance to originally install the solar panels was raised through a share offer, with 80% of the people that purchased shares resident in Dorset. The shareholders (members of Dorset Community Energy) receive 5.5% interest on their investment, so it is a win-win situation for both the school and the community investors (in addition to educational and environmental benefits). An example of how much it produces, on 1st June 2020 the total solar electricity generation 348kW, is equivalent to the daily electricity use of approximately 35 households.

Residential Solar Array

The unusual spell of sunny weather and clear skies during the lockdown period has provided a lot of solar energy. The solar array on this house generated about 20 kWh a day for most of April and May. This compares with an average household use of two kWh a day, so most of this energy is going back into the grid. However, some of it is used directly to boil kettles and to charge an electric car. This is more efficient as it avoids transmission losses. It also means that all the driving over that period has been solar powered, zero carbon and free of direct cost. In fact under more normal conditions and using an energy supplier committed to renewable energy sources, charging the car at home results in a maximum running cost of 4p/mile, a quarter of the cost of a petrol or diesel car and without the emissions.

The solar array comprises 16 x 200W modules, giving a rated output of 3.2 kW (in full sun). The modules are split into 2 strings with separate invertors, to give redundancy, but it has functioned without a problem for over 10 years. The initial cost of £10k was recovered after about 6 years, under the Feed-in Tariff. Such a system would now cost less than half that, but the FIT has been drastically reduced. A smart meter allows optimum use of the energy for water heating, electrical appliances and charging batteries.

We take energy from the grid when there is not enough solar (our provider is Good Energy). We do not have a storage battery as they are expensive at present, though the price is falling. Obviously, the car battery stores energy, but only for use by the car.

Nick Ward

useful links