Decentralised Energy for Birmingham

Localise West Midlands has produced a scoping study for decentralised energy in Birmingham. The scoping study, produced with partner organisations Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership and Hestia Services Ltd, has concluded that Birmingham could play a highly significant and leading role in shaping strategy and policy in the area of decentralised energy generation.

Scoping Study: Decentralised Energy for Birmingham (pdf)

Press release – 20th March 2007 – Decentralised Energy for Birmingham

A new study published by Localise West Midlands has concluded that Birmingham could play a highly significant and leading role in shaping strategy and policy in the area of decentralised energy generation.

Decentralised energy is energy generated close to the point of use, using technologies like combined heat and power (CHP), solar panels, ground source energy and others. The aim is to replace wholesale importation of energy that results in huge losses in transmission and high CO2 emissions.

As the first non-capital city to commission a study of this kind, the report states that the widespread adoption of decentralised energy technology is the only way that Birmingham is likely stay on track to meet the government’s target of a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

Hestia, a locally based specialist consultancy firm, was very pleased to carry out the work that was funded by the Greenpeace Environmental Trust. Keith Bennett, Director of Consultancy at Hestia commented, “This is essentially a scoping study that is being produced with the intention of making a strong case for a full feasibility report. There are already a number of significant programmes of work taking place across the City and the wider West Midlands region that could support, and in turn benefit from, a full decentralised feasibility study and we very much hope that funding becomes available to support what could be a very important piece of work.”

The project is strongly endorsed by Birmingham City Council, with both the Urban Design Team and the Regional, European and International Divisions offering words of support.

Adrian Rowlands, Divisional Manager of Development and Special Services in BCC Urban Design, commented: “This report clearly demonstrates the potential for developing strong, decentralised energy generation in Birmingham, and the benefits that this would bring the city, in terms of security, economy and sustainability. A feasibility study such as that described by this report would be a valuable first step in building such a decentralised energy economy in Birmingham and Birmingham City Council is strongly supportive of such a move.”

Localise West Midlands believe that support of this kind is essential if a full feasibility study is to have an impact on policy and strategy in Birmingham.
The scoping study has determined that data does currently exist to establish a credible baseline to make the projections for the impact decentralised energy could make on the City by 2025, paving the way to comprehensive take-up of the technologies.

A further section of the report, produced by Localise West Midlands and the Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership, has recommended that the feasibility study also examines community ownership models for DE systems in order to maximise the potential social and educational benefits. The feasibility of locally issued bonds as funding mechanism requires further investigation, as does the potential of community-scale off-grid systems that avoid ‘use of systems’ charges from network operators and energy suppliers.

Karen Leach of Localise West Midlands said “This is about local, efficient circulation of energy matched by local, efficient circulation of the investment. A feasibility study will help the city maximise these benefits both for Birmingham communities and for the climate”.

Notes to editors:

1. Localise West Midlands is a think-tank and consultancy promoting the environmental, social and economic benefits of local trade, money flow and decision-making. LWM believes that this approach builds social capital, targets regeneration to meet local needs, maximises local job creation, and reduces transport and CO2 emissions. Decentralised energy systems clearly have the potential to be a strong demonstrator of these benefits.
2. The report is available online; click on the link above.
3. Details of other Greenpeace activities promoting Decentralised Energy, and clear explanations of the concept, can be found here.