HKD Energy 2015-2016 Annual report and audited accounts are now available.
Feasibility study on ground source heat
Our feasibility study of a ground source heat pump system for Downlands and Windmills schools is now complete and has been approved by the funders, the Rural Community Energy Fund. You can download the full report or executive summary from our website, https://www.hkdenergy.org.uk/
If you don’t have internet access and would like a hard copy of the report please get in touch.
We are disappointed that the study’s conclusion is that none of the options reviewed is financially viable at the moment, although some are technically feasible. The combination of historically low gas prices (the alternative fuel) and substantial capital costs (including modifications needed to existing heat systems in the two schools) means the project cannot go ahead in the short term. We will keep a close eye on gas prices over the next few years, and hope we can revisit the project later.
Meanwhile a lot of the detailed information collected for the project can be put to other use. We’ll be working with the two schools on energy efficiency measures that can improve the way their existing heat systems work.
Thanks to all of you who contributed to our online survey (or who came to our public meeting and contributed your views). You told us that addressing climate change was your top priority in supporting HKD Energy (over 80% gave this as priority 1 or 2), closely followed by supporting the local community. As someone at the public meeting told us, a good financial return ‘is an extra bonus’.
You also had good ideas for projects we should be exploring next. 77% were interested in exploring electricity storage options at the community level, 45% said don’t give up on renewable heat, and 36% said both wind and solar projects should be looked at. You also had lots of specific ideas including low-carbon community transport (HKD electric bikes anyone?) and electric car charging points in local car parks. We’ll be studying the survey results carefully as we discuss future opportunities.
Renewable Traction scheme
HKD Energy is one of several community energy groups hoping to get involved with an exciting and innovative project being developed by campaigning group 10:10, Community Energy South, and Imperial College London. The project is exploring how solar energy could be plugged directly into the ‘third rail’ power supply system of the railways in the south east. This is currently powered from the national grid via substations at intervals along the railway line, which convert the AC power of the national grid to the DC electricity required for the railway. Solar panels generate DC power, so if they could be connected directly there is the potential to avoid the ‘logjam’ on the national grid in our region.
The first phase of the project, a detailed study of the technical requirements of connection, will be completed soon. In the second phase HKD Energy and other members of Community Energy South are looking for potential sites to pilot small ground-mounted solar arrays that would be close to the railway substations. We’re hoping to find at least one site that has enough potential to be worth a more detailed feasibility study. You can read more about the project so far on http://www.
And the sun keeps on shining
The fine weather earlier in the summer was great news for solar power. From a solar powered bus in Brighton to an electric-powered passenger ferry in Finland, from growing numbers of electric cars on the road to Google’s data centres and offices becoming entirely powered by renewables, we’re beginning to see change happening. This summer for the first time, renewable sources generated more electricity than coal and oil and gas combined. These, and many more, stories of ‘climate hope’ are collected by 10:10 on https://1010uk.org/climatehope
And if you’ve been thinking about getting an electric car, our neighbours in Steyning have put together a very useful beginner’s guide on http://www.1010steyning.org/
Closer to home, the panels on Downlands School and sports centre have had a good year, with particularly good outputs in the second quarter (Q2) offsetting the poor figures in Q1. The total Q2 output (30,090 kWh) was 5.5% higher than 2016 and 2.6% higher than 2015. More recently, we have lost approximately seven days of generation on the main school system during August due to the system outage necessary to connect the updated power supply required for the new buildings, however we believe the contractor was successful in keeping the outage time as short as possible.
Chris Handel, Chair John Willis, Secretary
Nick Owens, Treasurer Juliet Merrifield, Director
Bec Hanley, Director
Find out at our meeting on Monday 26th June, 7:30 – 9pm at Proper Coffee, 26 Keymer Road, Hassocks.
HKD Energy has been given a grant to see whether Ground Source Heat Pumps could provide heat for Downlands and Windmill Schools. We’ve been working with a team of experts on a feasability study. Come and hear their findings and have your say.
HKD Energy Annual General Meeting
You are warmly invited to our AGM on Monday 5 December 2016. Our main speaker after the business meeting will be Mark Kenber, Managing Director – Energy Supply for Mongoose Energy. Mongoose Energy is a co-operative company whose goal is to change the nature of energy ownership, generation and supply. It works with community groups, commercial developers and investors to identify, develop, finance, build and manage community owned, clean energy projects. Mark will talk about the new energy supply company that Mongoose will launch soon, to be the UK’s first energy supply company that is majority owned by community energy groups. Unlike other suppliers, the majority of the profits will be invested in the communities that help generate it, being used to run environmental and social initiatives. Full details of the AGM will be provided in our November newsletter.
Renewable Heat Project
We are delighted to say that we have just been awarded a grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) to conduct a feasibility study of a project using ground source heat to provide heating for two schools and a sports centre. RCEF is a £15 million programme, delivered by WRAP and jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS). It supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community. For more information on RCEF, visit www.wrap.org.uk/renewables.
What is renewable heat?
Renewable heat is important because almost half the total energy consumed in the UK is used to heat buildings. Gas and oil are the main fossil fuels in use for heat. Replacing these with renewable sources of heat will significantly reduce carbon emissions. Renewable heat sources in the UK include biomass (mainly wood, burned in boilers), solar thermal panels (which heat water rather than generating electricity), air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Heat pumps work like refrigerators in reverse, capturing heat from the environment for our homes and buildings.
The system we are exploring for the schools is a ground source heat pump. This makes use of the warmer temperatures (in winter) found underneath the ground – the temperature in the ground at a depth of 6 metres is roughly equal to the mean annual air temperature. A pipe circulates water in a closed loop system underground, and a heat pump extracts the warmth from it to provide heat for the building. For every unit of electricity used to operate the ground source heat pump, 3 to 4 units of heat are delivered to the building, making it very efficient.
The feasibility study
The project will explore the technical and financial feasibility, and community support for a ground source heat pump system to provide heat to Downlands secondary school, Windmills junior school and Hassocks sports centre (located at Downlands).
If the feasibility study demonstrates its financial and technical viability, we expect that the scheme would be funded by a public subscription for shares in HKD Energy Ltd to cover the cost of the initial capital works and commissioning. We anticipate that to attract sufficient interest from shareholders the scheme would need to give subscribers a rate of interest of 4-6% per annum. Income to repay capital and pay interest to shareholders would come from charges to the schools and sports centre for heat provided, and from the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
The renewable heat incentive
The RHI is the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. The scheme is designed to bridge the gap between the cost of fossil fuel heat sources and renewable heat alternatives, through financial support for owners of participating installations, both domestic and non-domestic. Scheme participants are paid a tariff per kilowatt hour of heat generated, with payments made quarterly for either seven years (domestic) or 20 years (non-domestic). The level of tariff support varies according to the technology used, with ground source heat pumps receiving good support since a significant increase in 2014, currently at 8.95 p/kWh.
Update on Downlands solar project
The solar panels at Downlands have continued to generate well, particularly with the good weather we had during May and August, and despite some long periods of poor weather. The comparison of last year’s generation with this year’s is interesting, with the total generation for each of the two years being almost equal, but with some months showing big variations. For example August 2016 achieved 21.5% more generation than in 2015, whereas for June the 2016 generation was 24.1% lower than in 2015.
As explained in previous newsletters, we do have an on-going problem with the fouling of some of the panels by seagulls. Fortunately the seagulls do tend to congregate in particular places, which means that only a small number of panels have a significantly reduced output. The TiGo optimisers on each panel are effective in limiting the problem to just those panels with the fouling and consequently the overall effect on generation is not of great concern.
To add to the concerns about the seagulls, the spinning bird deterrent on the sports centre roof was damaged in the gales at Easter and had to be repaired (a new ‘high wind’ vane was supplied at no cost). Also we decided to move the deterrent on the main school to be nearer the location favoured by the seagulls. This work was carried out in June, along with a complete clean of all the panels.
We have consulted other groups who have similar problems with bird fouling and the general consensus is that it is difficult to justify the relatively high cost of having the panels cleaned frequently, so that for most of the time the natural cleaning effect of rain and wind is judged to be adequate. For the time being we have decided on a similar policy, although we will continue to monitor the panels regularly.
Chris Handel, Chair John Willis, Secretary
Nick Owens, Treasurer Juliet Merrifield, Director
Bec Hanley, Director Darren Berman, Director
Downlands solar project news & a new project planned
The sun is shining on our recently cleaned solar panels at Downlands, with the two systems regularly getting close to their maximum output when the clouds clear. Now that the panels have been installed for 17 months, we can review the data for a whole year and more, and make comparisons about how this year compares to last year.
Our first full year of generation covered the period from April 2015 to March 2016, with total generation in this period being 80,279 kWh. This is very close (99.4%) to the projected figure of 80,731 kWh. As we have reported previously, the problem of seagulls fouling the panels is of on-going concern, and without this problem we believe the yearly output would have comfortably exceeded the projected figure.
This year has seen another significant influence on the performance of the panels – i.e. the distinct lack of sunshine for protracted periods! The effect of this year’s poor weather can be seen in the comparison of the generation in the period March – June in 2016 (37,705 kWh) compared to 2015 (40,881 kWh) – indicating an 8% drop in this year’s output to date.
One benefit of the poor weather this year has been that the majority of the panels have been effectively cleaned by the periods of heavy rain. However this has still left us with concerns how best to respond to the heavy seagull fouling in certain areas (the seagulls particularly like some areas on the highest roofs). We’ve been getting mixed messages about how effective the bird deterrent devices (see photo below) are, and we are now into a period of monitoring to allow decisions to be made.
To add to the concerns about the seagulls, the deterrent on the sports centre roof was damaged in the gales at Easter and has had to be repaired. Also we decided to move the deterrent on the main school to be nearer the location favoured by the seagulls. In addition we are taking further advice from the supplier of the deterrent devices to help us decide if any further actions need to be taken.
A new project under development
As you will know, changes in the feed-in tariff and other government policy changes have made solar more challenging for us, though we haven’t given up on it yet. In the meantime our search for new renewable energy projects in our area has taken us into the area of renewable heat.
Renewable heat is a way of heating buildings from renewable sources rather than oil or gas. It’s important in terms of reducing carbon emissions as about a third of our national annual carbon emissions are generated from heating systems. The government provide support via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which has not been cut back drastically in the way that support for solar PV generation has.
Renewable sources for heat include biomass like wood or special grasses (burned in boilers in much the same way as coal – indeed the Drax power plant in North Yorkshire is in process of converting from coal to biomass), anaerobic digesters (fans of The Archers will be familiar with controversies over these), air source heat pumps, and the source we are investigating, ground source heat pumps.
Ground source heat pumps work like a fridge in reverse – through fluid-filled pipes in a continuous ground loop or deep bore holes they take heat from underground which is then used to evaporate the refrigerant fluid in the heat pump (see diagram below). The refrigerant vapour then passes through a compressor that raises its pressure and temperature before passing to the condenser section of the heat pump, where the vapour condenses back to a fluid, giving up its heat to the working fluid used to heat your building.
Typically, a well-designed system will produce 4 kWh of heat energy for every 1 kWh of electrical energy used by the heat pump. In many applications there is also a significant potential benefit in being able to run the system in ‘reverse cycle’, allowing buildings to be cooled in hot weather.
We are now investigating a ground source heat system that would serve Downlands School and sports centre (powered by electricity – partially at least – from our solar panels), and Windmills School. As a large and complex project it would benefit from a feasibility study. We have just applied for a grant for such a study from the Rural Community Energy Fund, and hope to hear in September whether we have been successful. If we get the grant we will contract with OST Energy in Brighton, an international technical consultancy on renewable energy, to investigate the feasibility in both technical and financial terms of such a project.
Part of the feasibility study will be consulting with our community about the plans, to gauge both local support/opposition and also interest in future investment. We’ll let you know about plans for open meetings closer to the time.
Chris Handel, Chair John Willis, Secretary
Nick Owens, Treasurer Juliet Merrifield, Director
Bec Hanley, Director Darren Berman, Director
Reasons to be cheerful
In January and February this year we had meetings for members and supporters to hear from speakers about developments in renewable and community energy. They gave us a lot of reasons to be cheerful as we look ahead to further work in our community.
In January, Will Cottrell, CEO of the Brighton Energy Co-op talked about their £1m of new community-funded solar PV projects in Sussex and Kent. As one of the earliest community energy groups, Brighton Energy Co-op has witnessed the significant growth in community energy over the last 5 years. That’s being challenged by recent government changes, and Will talked us through the changes and their impacts. However, Will remains optimistic and expects new business models to emerge.
In February, Jonathan Gaventa, an HKD Energy investor and a director of the E3G environmental thinktank, talked about the ‘extraordinary transition’ to clean energy. The pace of change is demonstrated by China, which has more wind and solar power than any other country, and in the next 14 years is planning new clean energy infrastructure generating 800-1,000 GW, equivalent to the entire European power system.
While energy systems have traditionally been seen as expensive, large pieces of kit that take years to build, solar and other low carbon alternative energy is more likely to be small and decentralised, and installed directly by consumers. In the last few years the UK has seen:
- Renewable electricity generation increasing faster than in sector-leaders Germany
- Carbon emissions dropping (in part from closing old coal-fired power plants)
- Energy demand falling (mainly because of energy efficiency measures)
Even with small and local energy generation, connections to a wider grid are important and can help the transition to clean energy, because they move electricity around large areas and can smooth out demand and supply. For example, this winter has seen record wind energy generation, and this can go south where solar has not been doing so well.
Our final speakers were Chris Rowland and Nick Rouse from OVESCo, both also directors of the new Meadow Blue Community Energy, which recently raised over £1.2m in a share issue for a large 5MW solar farm near Chichester. This represents a significant ‘scaling up’ for community energy, from relatively small rooftop projects. Meadow Blue is financed by the share issue, bank loans and they hope from an investment by West Sussex County Council. Once built the farm will be a wildflower meadow with sheep grazing. Looking ahead, Chris said he expected solar rooftop projects to continue to be built, although with changes in the business model.
HKD Energy directors are developing our strategy for moving forward, despite the government policy changes. We have some projects under review and will communicate more about these when they are further developed.
Thanks to all of you for your continuing interest and support.
Please join us for our meeting on Monday 29 February 2016
Community energy: ways forward
7.30 – 9 pm, Monday 29 February 2016
Proper Coffee, 26 Keymer Rd, Hassocks BN6 8AN
Jonathan Gaventa, Director of E3G, a think-tank working to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, will talk about creating a zero carbon energy system for Europe, and the implications for community energy projects.
Chris Rowland, Director of OVESCo, will share their experiences of developing a large solar farm near Chichester, in partnership with Mongoose Energy, and the potential for community energy projects to ‘scale up’.
Refreshments will be available
AGM of HKD Energy
HKD Energy’s first AGM is on Tuesday 17 November from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Schering Suite at Downlands School.
Our Downlands Solar project continues to generate electricity from the sun, though as the days shorten the production will decline. As of 30 September our panels on the school and sports centre have generated 66,874 kWh, so in about 6 months we have generated 83% of what we expected to generate in the course of a year. A very good place to be, despite the best efforts of the seagulls to foul the top row of panels on the sports centre. Cleaning and bird deterrents are to be installed at half term. (Detail comparisons indicate the main school is running at about 5% above the projected output, whereas the sports centre has dropped to almost 5% below the projected figures – confirming the need for panel cleaning and bird deterrents. Overall the total generation is 1.4% greater than projected.)
The TiGo monitoring system gives us some interesting equivalents for the generation from the panels up to 30 September – it is equivalent to removing 266 vehicles from use, and is sufficient energy to boil almost 700,000 kettles. The really impressive figure is that 35 tonnes of CO2 have been saved, equivalent to 1,145 trees planted.
For those of us committed to shifting to a renewable energy system these are frustrating times. A consultation paper issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) threatens to cut the Feed In Tariff rates by 87% as of January 2016 – or even to end them altogether. The consultation has not yet finished so no final policy changes have been announced, but the prognosis for the solar energy industry is not good. Already 3 large solar installation companies have gone into administration, including our local and pioneer company Southern Solar (founded by Howard Johns who spoke at our Downlands launch).
This uncertainty about government policy has made it difficult to proceed with our plans for new projects. We have several sites under consideration, and once we know government policy we can evaluate their financial viability. It seems likely that future projects will need to be sites that use all the solar electricity they generate (so schools and other sites with heavy daytime use will be ideal) since the income from exporting to the grid will be quite small. Interest in ways to store the electricity generated in the daytime for use at night will also increase significantly.
As a community energy project we are committed to finding ways to move to renewable energy sources: the government is not making that easy, but we’ll keep working on it.
Meanwhile there are other community energy projects in our area with current or upcoming share offers, including:
- Brighton Energy Co-op – http://www.brightonenergy.org.
- RePower Balcombe – http://www.repowerbalcombe.
- SOLESCo (Chichester) – http://solesco.co.uk/
- BHESCo – http://bhesco.co.uk/share-
Thanks to all of you for your interest and support of this project.