Update – October 2016

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


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