"Towards a Zero Carbon Community"
Waste, Wind and Wood
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007
An event organised by Sustainable Youlgrave to examine the commercial possibilities of renewable energy in the Bradford Valley.
Held at Youlgrave Reading Room on Monday 19 November 2007 and chaired by Matthew Parris.
As part of Sustainable Youlgrave’s aim to engage the local farming community in discussion over the possibilities of developing renewable energy schemes in the Youlgrave area, a meeting was held with local farmers and landowners to examine options and debate the wider picture. All the farmers in the Bradford Valley were invited to a sociable and informal evening, with over 30 attending. Others present included Jacalyn Evans of the Agricultural Development Advisory Service, Bec Penny from the Peak District National Park Authority, and committee members from Sustainable Youlgrave.
The Chairman for the evening, Matthew Parris, gave a short introduction during which he identified the enormous pressure and challenges that the farming community was presently under and the efforts that they were making. He also spoke about the need to explore green solutions and look at viable options for the future.
There were then three illustrated presentations that covered types of renewable energy that Sustainable Youlgrave is actively exploring in the local area.
Anaerobic digestion: Michael O’Gorman (Celtic Composting Systems Ltd) presented conclusions from the pre-feasibility study that his company has just carried out on behalf of Sustainable Youlgrave. He gave examples of successful German AD plants and summarised the overall economics of it.
Wind energy: Rod Edwards (Dulas Resolutions Ltd) reported on the second pre-feasibility study for Sustainable Youlgrave, this one on the future for wind turbines in the valley. He showed how his local community in Wales approached a similar wind energy project and explained the implications and benefits for farmers.
Wood fuel: Will Rolls (Forestry Commission) spoke about the energy possibilities of the wood fuel yield from local woodland. He described the environmental and social benefits of biomass and detailed the different types of biomass fuel.
After the interesting presentations there was an interval during which a pie and pea supper was served (prepared by Hollands Butchers, Youlgrave), accompanied by Whim Hartington beer and wine (from Parkers, Youlgrave).
The evening concluded with a lengthy question and answer session. Points raised included the following:
• What are Renewables Obligations Certificates and who pays them? Will Rolls and others explained the background to them and how the situation continues to change.
• Is there any likelihood of the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets being reached? The speakers thought probably not, but agreed that it was probably useful to have targets. Matthew Parris believed that the “embarrassment of politicians” over wildly ambitious targets would work to our advantage.
• How far is the attitude of the National Park a barrier towards developing renewable energy schemes (through planning restrictions and so on)? There was a feeling that with the granting of a small turbine on Tideswell Moor the PDNPA was slowly shifting its stance – but there is still some way to go.
• If the economics of a single farm developing a RE scheme is not economically viable, is there scope for farms operating together? Michael O’Gorman said that while farm waste on its own was unlikely to make an AD plant economic, when other organic matter/green waste was added then it soon became a viable operation.
• John Youatt made the point that it was imperative that renewable energy producers were paid a fair price for their product, and that the question of feed-in tariffs must be addressed if RE was to develop on anything like the footing it should in Britain.
• What are the mechanics of installing a wind turbine on a farm and would it be viable? Rod Edwards explained that double the wind speed produces eight times the power, which is why big is always best for obvious reasons. He said that the supply of medium size turbines is quite limited at present but more are becoming available.
• Water power and mini hydro schemes were recognised as eminently suitable for our area, as witnessed by projects at Ilam and New Mills. John Youatt referred to Haddon Estate’s plans for Alport Mill, enthusiastically supported by Sustainable Youlgrave.