Community Energy Showcase
Find out more about community energy projects from across Suffolk.
The Norton Village Hall Air Source Project
The Norton Air Source project at Norton Village Hall was completed mid-2019 and cost just over £22,000. That was for complete removal of old wall-mounted electrical heaters and all cabling & fixtures, installation of x3 internal air dispersal ceiling-mounted units in the main hall and x1 wall-mounted air distribution unit in our committee room, plus x4 external air source heat exchanger/fan units on the outside east wall, together with all required ducting, cabling, control panel & commissioning.
Kings Cooling Solutions, a local firm, did the work. It gave a much faster, more responsive heating control (heat the main hall inside in 10 minutes in mid-winter) and the ability to cool the building in summer through the air-conditioning aspect of the system.
Due to the exceptional circumstances in 2020 and 2021, the project financials and savings are difficult to itemise. But during the latter half of 2019, showed little change in the trend of electricity consumption, but other facilities may have been used more often, eg kitchen where power draw can be high, and the new air-con was used from mid- to late-summer in 2019. The users are confident that our regular power demand has not gone up despite the additional use of air-con, and it is certainly have a much more responsive system for year-round conditions.
Palgrave Wind Turbine
In 2008 the electricity bill for the community centre was nearly £3,000. At the time, this was more than 20% of the total turnover for the Palgrave and District Community Centre and was clearly unsustainable. At the AGM that year, it was decided that it was essential to look at reducing this cost, preferably using “renewable “ energy sources. And so began a major task to secure a renewable energy source for the Centre , and seek funding to help purchase and installation.
It is 10 years since the wind turbine was installed in the corner of the playing field at the community centre. In those years it has produced 150,000kW of pollution free electricity, mainly for use in the community centre with any surplus “exported” to the grid.
Before opting for a turbine, other renewable options such as ground source heat pumps and photovoltaics were investigated but the turbine was by far the most cost effective for the anticipated output. While turbines are commonplace today, 10 years ago there was some very vociferous opposition to a turbine on the playing field. At one stage planning permission was obtained to re-locate it onto adjacent farming land, but this option fell through when ownership of the land changed. To complicate matters the turbine was found to be some six metres from the original approved location and the threat of having to move it was only removed when a new planning approval was obtained in 2016. A major part of this approval was dependent upon a very comprehensive (and expensive) bat survey showing the turbine posed no hazard to the bat population.
With its existing position validated, the long awaited replacement of the rotor blade was undertaken and subsequent years have proved less eventful with an annual service proving sufficient most years.
The saving in fuel costs (now approx.£1200 p.a.) and the income from Feed In Tariffs (FiTs) has considerably helped the Centre to undertake many essential improvements and repairs to the building over the years. Roof insulation , double glazing and low energy lights have helped to reduce our carbon footprint even further. Inefficient storage heaters were replaced with heating from air source heat pumps, which in 2009 were not regarded as “Renewable” heat sources.
The turbine has the greatest output in Winter so it does provide a great deal of the Centre’s electricity demand for heating at no cost. Any surplus on windy days is exported to the grid with the utility company only paying 2P per unit. As battery technology improves it may be possible to store the surplus produced and use it later, instead of paying 16P per unit- something for the future.
Rattlesden is a picturesque village a few miles to the west of Stowmarket. Ten years ago they decided to build a new sports pavilion, which could also be used for community functions as well. As luck would have it, a local resident Phil Strickland, was an expert in renewable sources of energy and so the building was planned from the outset to have underfloor heating from a Ground Source Heat Pump and with solar panels on the roof generating electricity for the lighting and to power the heat pump. The installation has proved extraordinarily successful with very low running costs and ease of maintenance being the two most appreciated aspects to the project. Quite often the electricity bill is zero! The solar panels are on the back of the pavilion roof, so from the front the building looks traditional and in keeping with the houses in the village.