Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reading Borough Council look for new energy production from renewable sources

Initiative aims to increase the use of renewable energy in the borough by eight per cent by 2020
Anaerobic digestion is already used at Reading’s sewage treatment works to power the process to treat sewage waste
The power of Reading’s rivers could be harnessed to produce energy as part of the borough’s contribution to saving the planet.
Councillors were due to be asked to approve the Draft Reading Climate Change Strategy at the strategic environment planning and transport committee on Tuesday.
The initiative aims to increase the use of renewable energy in the borough by eight per cent by 2020.
It proposes the use of “local smart grids and power plants” to offer more responsive cost-effective low carbon energy to customers.
It plans to introduce “smart meters” across the borough to monitor and control local energy supplies – with communities and businesses working together to reduce their energy consumption and develop low energy alternatives.
One of the elements of the strategy includes the increase of renewable energy by solar panels, hydropower, wind, renewable heat resources, biomass, ground and air source heat pumps and anaerobic digestion.
The strategy document says the council has installed solar panels on 40 buildings in Reading and there are 500 further households which have solar panels.
Reading’s two rivers offer an opportunity for hydropower – like the Mapledurham Estate turbine which generates 0.5GWh a year.
Wind is considered a “significant opportunity” even though Reading is “not a windy place”.
The single Green Park turbine produces enough electricity to power 730 homes.
Renewable heat sources in Reading include wood – from extensive wooded areas in Berkshire – ground source heat and anaerobic digestion generating heat from waste and sewage. The strategy points out that biomass energy production is only viable if it comes from genuinely sustainable sources and is also problematic because burning fuel from wood and energy crops does affect air quality.
Reading has been identified as “particularly suitable for ground source systems” because of its geology and the mobility of its ground water.
Heat is pumped from the ground using pumps which typically use one unit of electricity to deliver three to four kW of heat.
Anaerobic digestion – using food waste and sewage to generate natural gas – is already used at Reading’s sewage treatment works in Whitley to power the process to treat sewage waste.
The heat and electricity generated are both used on-site.
The strategy also looks at how businesses can get involved. Companies and firms use 48 per cent of the energy in the borough.
Most are small and medium firms and many are tenants in the buildings they use.
“This gives them less control over the specification of their buildings and the equipment installed in them.
They only have influence when leases are renewed and “even then it can be difficult to convince landlords to invest in measures that won’t increase their return on capital”.
Green Leases have been pioneered by enlightened commercial property owners, but in Reading the strategy suggests that businesses could use energy efficient equipment and practices.
The strategy says: “There are both financial and reputational benefits to adopting a methodical approach to monitoring and minimising energy use.
“We can be confident that energy prices will continue to increase, so prudent use of energy and minimisation of energy costs are essential to control operating costs – operational efficiency releases funds that can be reemployed in more productive ways.”