Update – August 2017

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/projects/heat-from-the-ground/
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.

Online survey

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.railtechnologymagazine.com/Comment/plugging-solar-power-into-our-railways

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/electric-cars/

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

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