Bath & North East Somerset Renewable Energy Study
Investment options in solar photovoltaic systems, wood fuelled boilers and the biomass supply chain
Project duration: September 2013 to January 2014
Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) commissioned the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to help identify financially viable renewable energy projects in which to invest a £500,000 fund, as part of an 'invest to save' initiative. The projects had to be capable of bringing in enough income to repay the capital costs (an annual interest rate of 4.5% on the borrowed finance). Through this investment, the council aimed to increase the proportion of renewable energy within Bath and the Council’s operations, whilst saving carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, supporting the low-carbon employment sector and providing a modest income.
CSE has an excellent understanding of the work of local authorities on energy issues, having worked with a wide range of councils across the country and particularly with our local councils in the West of England; for example we have previously undertaken a biomass feasibility study for B&NES into the scope and options for utilising local biomass as a source of renewable energy to meet heating requirements at appropriate B&NES owned or controlled sites. In addition, we have a good understanding of local issues such as heritage site considerations through our projects (e.g. Low Carbon Bath, which won a Royal Town Planning Institute national award for Sustainable Communities).
For this study, the council identified three renewable energy areas for investigation:
- Biomass supply chain infrastructure
- Biomass heating systems for buildings owned and occupied by B&NES
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) electric systems delivered by Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE)
Research was conducted on existing biomass heating systems in the area, suitable buildings to install biomass to strengthen the local supply chain (using a specially developed financial-energy model), and solar PV investment options. Following this, CSE's recommendations to the council were:
- Set up a biomass-heating group, consisting of representatives from all sectors of the biomass supply-chain, with the overarching aim of increasing the uptake of appropriate biomass energy.
- Ensure leisure service contracting in June 2015 includes the upgrade of leisure centre heating facilities to wood fuel (where viable)
- Obtain quotes from accredited installers for biomass heating at two local schools that demonstrated potential to provide significant financial returns
- Enter negotiations with BWCE to invest the remaining funding in a solar array via a loan agreement
Image: flickr, NH53, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.