We all know that cleaning up emissions from housing and industry is a huge challenge. More than a third of the UK’s greenhouse gases are produced by buildings. So yesterday’s announcement from Kwasi Karteng, the Minister for Business, energy and Clean Growth was very welcome. By 2030 more than 250,000 of us could have our homes powered by local renewable sources and have our energy bills cut by half, he said, as he revealed a new package of measures to make UK homes and businesses cleaner and greener. The news is a key part of Britain’s Year of Climate Action and comes just two weeks after the Prime Minister announced plans to phase-out coal power by 2024.
The £90 million investment includes £70 million for Europe’s first large- scale low-carbon hydrogen power plants – a low or zero-emission alternative to fossil fuels. This initiative could generate enough clean energy to heat more than 200,000 UK homes. The first plant will power homes on Merseyside and the second is planned for Aberdeen. A third project will develop technology to harness offshore wind off the Grimsby coast. The other £20 million will be used to fund projects aimed at cutting household emissions and bills through nine UK-wide local “smart energy” projects.
So what’s going to happen to our old coal-fired power stations? One solution is to demolish them and use the land for housing. This is exactly what is planned for Rugeley in Staffordshire where land formerly owned by the power station will be turned into a sustainable village. The 2,300 new homes will feature thermal storage units instead of traditional gas boilers, enabling them to draw, store and heat their homes with geothermal energy from local canals and disused mine shafts.
Similarly, in Coleraine in Northern Ireland, a micro-grid of nearly 100 homes will be powered by local wind power. This could help lower household electricity bills by as much as 50% and boost the contribution of renewables to the local energy mix by a quarter.
Eight other community pilot projects are planned to revolutionise local energy generation – helping the UK to meet its zero carbon emissions target and end our contribution to climate change by 2050.