Uttlesford – the most CO2 per household in England – "100% renewable is possible" says Altechnica study.

Dr Derek Taylor, Altechnica and OU Open University Energy & Environment Research Unit

The Altechnica study on Renewable Energy potential in Uttlesford (commissioned by Uttlesford Futures) study shows that it would be potentially possible to ultimately obtain all of the household electricity, space & water heating needs and power personal cars from 100% renewable energy from within Uttlesford.

Uttlesford is the East of England District located in the North West corner of Essex that borders Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and includes Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Stansted Airport within its boundaries. – Prior to Uttlesford Futures commissioning the study, Uttlesford District had been reported as emitting the most CO2 per household in England.

This study showed that domestic heat provision, electricity and potentially personal vehicles could all be supplied by a mix of indigenous renewable energy sources indicating that Uttlesford could ultimately achieve carbon neutrality utilising these resources – even without implementing energy efficiency measures – though it would be even more feasible when combined with demand reduction (though one would have to take account of any ‘rebound effects’).

The available indigenous renewable energy flows are primarily from the wind, solar, ground, ambient air and certain biofuels. ~

The potential for wind energy may be affected by the proximity of Stansted airport so individual wind energy projects would need to take account of this and the maximum potential contribution from wind energy would need to be adjusted, though some adjustment was included in the Wind Energy Section where the wind energy potential from wind turbines under 90m above ground level was also estimated.

The potential for small scale hydro was explored but river/stream flows/rainfall were not really sufficient for more than a few niche micro hydro installations. ~There are a number of other more innovative uses of biofuels that could potentially be utilised but there was not time to include within the report.

This report introduces a number of innovative applications and uses of renewable energy. ~

As far as is know this is the first local renewable energy study for a District in the UK (or anywhere else?) that looks at

  • the potential numbers of wind turbines needed for household electricity, heat + cars
  • explores the potential for providing household low/zero carbon heating/hot water
  • zero carbon cars (without relying on 100% liquid biofuels)
  • producing/using local straw pellets for heating
  • straw fired local district CHP
  • biofuel micro-CHP
  • food-waste to local energy/CHP
  • solar car-port power stations
  • using solar roads for heating and cooling
  • GSHPs (Ground source heat pumps) & ASHPs (Air source heat pumps).

Whilst to achieve its entire potential would require infrastructure development coupled with heat stores and local networks as well as substantial investment, it was encouraging that even for an inland district located some distance from the coast and in the east of England that the renewable energy potential could be so substantial. ~

The study would seem to indicate that there may be similar potential in other Districts around the UK, though local conditions will likely result in a different mix of renewable energy options.

Dr Derek Taylor
85 Waterside
Peartree Bridge
Milton Keynes
Tel 01908 668797

OU Details
Energy & Environment Research Unit
Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes