Power Allotments Devon

On Tuesday 13th September I attended a webinar to introduce Power Allotments Devon along with colleagues from TECs.

This Devon wide project hopes to encourage local communities to build, own and benefit from their own renewable energy power station projects across Devon, creating spaces for biodiversity net gain and generating an income for local people.

To find out more you can visit the Power Allotments Devon website, here you will find a toolkit which includes a handbook, interactive map, and submission form which enables you to identify and submit possible sites.

They are running a webinar on 27th September at 2pm to explain it in more detail.

Why are electricity prices rising?

We examine the reasons behind the dramatic rises in electricity prices following the unprecedented rises in fossil fuel prices, and why reductions in renewable prices have had no effect.

We examine the reasons behind the dramatic rises in electricity prices following the unprecedented rises in fossil fuel prices, and why reductions in renewable prices have had no effect.

Fossil fuel prices have risen dramatically since 2021 and particularly since May 2022. The price of gas and oil in particular has soared. Gas is still used for a large part of electricity generation, as well as directly for heating. Because of the way the wholesale electricity market works, the price of gas normally sets the price of electricity.

See Ofgem for current information on wholesale prices

How the wholesale electricity market works (simplified)

Electricity retailers pay the wholesale price for electricity they sell on to retail customers. The electricity demand in any period needs to be balanced to generation. This balancing is done by a bidding process where generators bid to generate in a period. The Electricity System Operator (ESO) ranks the bids in merit order with the lowest price first, and then adds up the generation capacity until a marginal generator is found. The price paid to all successful bidders is the price paid by the marginal generator. Recently the marginal bidder has often been a gas generator.

For a more detailed explanation

Forecasts for the price cap

Domestic customers on standard variable tariffs are protected from excessive charging by a price cap, which is calculated periodically by Ofgem based on predictions of market prices for the upcoming period. In April 2022 the price cap rose sharply to 28p per unit for electricity, and in October 2022 it will rise to 52p. Consultancy Cornwall Insight predicts that the cap will rise a further 51% at the start of January to about 80p per unit, and a further 13% in April to about 90p per unit.

Ofgem cap methodology change

Historically Ofgem calculated the cap six monthly, based on forward prices wholesale price estimates. Recently wholesale prices have been volatile, and suppliers have had to pay more for electricity than was predicted. In order to avoid further supplier failures, Ofgem have introduced some changes:

  • The cap will be recalculated at 3 monthly intervals from October onwards.
  • A backwardisation calculation has been introduced which introduces compensation for the excess of actual wholesale prices for the previous period over those predicted in advance of the period.

These changes compensate suppliers for additional costs they have incurred and have the effect of increasing the cap more than would otherwise have been the case.

Energy Price Guarantee

Since this post was written the government has announced an energy price guarantee, which replaces the energy cap. This means that effectively the cap on electricity prices will be 34p.

For further about this announcement are here.

Some help for businesses has also been promised.

You might have thought that the simple measure of boosting onshore renewables would have been an obvious step to shorten the period that the government had to finance this intervention. The government hasn’t done this, instead it is lifting the ban on fracking, launching a new round of oil and gas licencing, and carrying on with nuclear projects. None of these actions will make any difference in the next few years to energy prices, but they will certainly cause increased carbon emissions.

Hedging

Most domestic electricity customers expect to buy electricity at a fixed price per unit, very few would accept a tariff which offered a different price for each half hour period (to the author’s knowledge there is only one such tariff). This means that electricity retailers need to find a means of fixing the price of the electricity they offer for the period of the contracts they offer, to do this they buy contracts to supply electricity at an agreed price at a future date. This practice is known as hedging. The failure of a many smaller suppliers to hedge adequately in 2021 lead to the large number of supplier failures last year.

The cost of renewables

Between 2009 and 2019 the price of electricity from solar generation dropped by 89%, and the price of on-shore wind dropped by 70%. A similar thing has happened with off-shore wind.

A similar thing has not happened with Nuclear.

Why did renewables come so cheap so fast? discusses the price drop in more detail.

This rapid cost reduction for renewables has resulted in electricity from gas costs roughly 4 times as much as from renewables.

Renewables have a high initial capital cost and low running costs. Initially subsidies were required to get the market established and get the benefits of scale. There is significant future price risk if renewables were to be funded based on future receipts, the cost of capital is substantially reduced if this risk is mitigated somehow.

Support methods for renewables

Early renewables were subsidised by the Renewables Obligation (RO) and Feed In Tariff (FIT), which are currently paid out of retail electricity bills. More recently renewables have been financed by Contracts for Difference (CfD), which now tend to reduce electricity prices. All domestic renewables are now privately funded. Given current prices some grid scale renewables are also being funded without subsidy.

Renewables Obligation

The RO requires electricity suppliers to buy a proportion of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) from generators registered with the RO scheme. ROCs are issued by Ofgem to registered generators. There is a monthly reconciliation to ensure that suppliers have either bought enough certificates or pay a penalty known as the buy-out price.

For further information see https://www.edie.net/edie-explains-renewables-obligation-certificates-rocs/

RO closed to new generators in 2017, but will continue to operate until 2037.

Each year BEIS calculates the amount of ROCs that need to be issued to meet proportions of renewables fixed in the 2015 Renewables Obligation Order (ROO). For 2022-3 the number of ROCs is set at 124.5 million. From this a rate of 0.491 ROCs per MWh is set for GB, this is a drop from 0.492 in 2021-2.

Projects remain in the RO scheme for 20 years, the scheme started in 2002 and closed in 2017, so we expect to see the number of generators in the scheme falling from now on, so the number of ROCs required will also drop.

ROCs are traded in the market, and are normally sold above the buy-out price set by Ofgem. Suppliers are prepared to do this because they receive a share of the buy-out money in addition to meeting their obligation.

The buy-out price is set by Ofgem each year by rules determined by the ROO and is linked to RPI. For 2022/3 it is set at £52.88/MWh

Feed In Tariff

Feed in Tariff is paid to domestic generators and smaller grid scale generators. It is paid regardless of how the electricity generated is consumed. The rate paid depends on when the scheme was joined and is inflation linked. The last FIT installations were done in 2019, though the rate was far lower than early installations in 2011.

Electricity generated under FIT must be measured by a generation meter. In December 2021 Ofgem published rules that must be applied when FIT registered plant is replaced or modified, essentially:

  • If the generation capacity is increased, then the meter reading is adjusted pro-rata when calculating the amount of FIT payable.
  • If storage is installed behind the generation meter, then it must not be possible for electricity to pass from the grid side of the meter to the generator side of the meter. (Otherwise it would measure electricity that hadn’t been generated by the plant).

For further information see Ofgem ruling.

Contracts for Difference

New renewables are supported by Contracts for Difference (CfD). Periodically there is a CfD auction where generators bid a strike price for the period of the contract. For each technology the auction is for an amount of generation. The result of the auction is a strike price for each technology. If the wholesale price does not meet the strike price then generator is subsidised from electricity bills. If the wholesale price exceeds the strike price, then the generator compensates electricity bills.

This subsidy is managed by a government owned company—the Low Carbon Company. 

In recent CfD auctions prices have fallen, and record amounts of renewables have been contracted.

Since the end of 2021 the electricity wholesale price has mainly been above the strike price, so CfD has acted to reduce electricity bills. In a climate of higher wholesale prices this will continue.

See Low Carbon Contracts Company Historic Dashboard for payments for recent data.

Other electricity charges

As well as wholesale electricity costs, retail electricity bills also pay for network costs, social and environmental obligations, other direct costs, taxes and operator’s margin.

Environmental and Social costs aka Green Levies.

Environmental and Social costs are often referred to as ‘Green Levies’ and currently amount to about 12% of electricity bills. The breakdown of environmental and social charges is shown on the left.

RO and FIT schemes have now both ended, so the amount of generation in the scheme won’t increase and will start to fall, but payments are linked to RPI, so the costs will increase. These are both contractual agreements.

ECO and WHD assist those in fuel poverty to improve the insulation standards of their dwellings.

Figures derived from Energy bills: getting the balance right

Cost of failed suppliers

When a supplier fails another supplier is found to continue their supply. Other costs associated with the failure are shared between the remaining suppliers, who pass this on via electricity bills. This has resulted in a near doubling of standing charges for electricity this year. According to this article the cost of failed suppliers is estimated at more than £2.7bn.

Conclusions

The electricity market has grown to be very complex, this brief note doesn’t touch on many aspects of it. As with many things that have grown complex there is a temptation to think that it would be simpler to start again, if this is done it should be done with care.

BEIS has launched a consultation Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA), which runs until October. This is far reaching, recognises some of the current problems, and could eventually achieve a more workable market, however, it is unlikely there would be any change from this for several years.

Responding to part 3 of the local plan consultation- sites for renewable energy

ACT plans to respond to the wind and solar energy section of TDC’s third part of its consultation on the local plan. We encourage you to do the same. To find out more about these proposals, how to respond and how to share your views

oOn 15th November Teignbridge District Council launched the third part of its consultation on the Local Plan. This third part of the consultation covers Renewable Energy, Gypsy and Travellers and Residential Sites Options.  The consultation closes on 24th January 2022.  The renewable energy part of the consultation covers site options for wind energy as well as policies in respect of wind and solar energy.

ACT plans to respond to the sites and policies for wind and solar energy.  We encourage you to do this direct to TDC.  We also welcome your views and comments, so we have included a facility for you to do this. 

We believe that renewables are an essential part of the overall effort to remain below the climate tipping point, caused by temperature rise of more than 1.5oC.  For more information on Climate Change please refer to Why this is an Emergency.  To read about actions needed, please see our Energy & Built Environment webpage.

When responding to the TDC online consultation, each wind site has a number of criteria against which free text can be entered.  You can also comment on policies associated with the potential solar areas identified for Teignbridge.

To help you see all the information provided by the consultation, as well as other related information, we have extended our Local Plan mapping data web page to cover proposed wind sites. Please read the instructions first to learn about how to use this data and how to enter comments you’d like to share with ACT against each site.

Although solar PV, especially with Li Ion battery storage has its part to play, this is mainly for smaller behind-the-meter applications.  Ideally rooftops or ground mounted close to buildings.  The following headings therefore represent our current views on the Part 3 consultation for wind.  We welcome your input on this.

Why we need local wind

In order to stand any chance of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels everyone needs to cut their greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible. According to Our World in Data 73.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to burning fossil fuels to generate energy.  To rapidly reduce emissions from energy production we all need to:

  • Reduce energy consumption, i.e. cut out waste and reduce non-essential consumption.
  • Increase the efficiency of the devices/processes that use this energy, e.g. A rated or higher.
  • Electrify transport, heating and industrial processes as these are the main consumers of fossil fuels.  Electrification is currently the most effective way to decarbonise energy as renewables become more widely deployed.

Electrification of transport and heat will increase electricity demand, if sufficient low carbon generation isn’t added, this could cause the Carbon Intensity of grid electricity to increase, the opposite of what is needed.  This is because more gas will be used to supply the additional energy needed.

The first wind farm in the UK was opened at Delabole in Cornwall in 1991. Between 2009 and 2020 wind energy in the UK grew by 715% , but most of that generation is on-shore in Scotland and off-shore, mainly the east coast of England. These are a long way from Teignbridge involving electricity transmission losses.

On-shore wind is a mature technology, which is also currently the cheapest source of electricity and has one of the lowest Carbon Intensities.  It is needed as part of the energy mix and can be deployed now.

Teignbridge currently has negligible wind generation, but has significant solar generation in the sunnier summer months. In winter, just as energy is needed for electrified heating (e.g. heat pumps), the local Carbon Intensity of the electricity supply is at its highest. If supply and demand were better matched for more of the time, Teignbridge’s Carbon Footprint would be reduced.  Wind generation is highest during the colder months.

How much of Teignbridge’s demand could be generated

The consultation estimates that an additional 10,000 homes would require 66GWh of electricity per year, so each home is estimated to consume 6.6MWh of electricity per year. If this level of consumption were repeated across all homes in Teignbridge after full electrification of heating and transport, then annual demand would be in the region of 462GWh.

The University of Exeter has estimated the generation from the sites identified in the consultation would be 217GWh using a mix of 1MW and 2MW wind turbines, this would be 47% of Teignbridge’s estimated electricity demand.

Wind turbines are designed for an IEC wind class from I for the strongest winds through to IV for the lowest wind speeds. The site with the strongest winds in Teignbridge has class II winds, most are III or IV. Turbines designed for class I winds have much smaller rotors and towers than those designed for class IV for the same power rating.

We believe that it would be more effective to place higher rated turbines at sites with the strongest wind classification.  This is not only more cost effective but also minimizes some of the potential adverse impacts of having wind turbines in Teignbridge.  We believe such an approach would probably meet or exceed all of Teignbridge’s estimated electricity demand.

We have placed turbines in line with the consultation to illustrate their potential impacts.  Using Local Plan mapping data web page, you can see the example turbines placed to comply with various restrictions.  Two example scenarios can be selected, those specified by the consultation (default scenario) and fewer higher rated turbines.  We have done this to illustrate the reduced noise impact of these higher rated turbines.

Proximity to Housing- Noise from wind turbines

Modern wind turbines are remarkably quiet compared to a decade or more ago. We have provided visual outlines where the sound power from the turbines is just lower than 45dBA, 40dBA and 35dBA.  The noise level inside a quiet library is 35dBA, 40dBA is the level in a quiet rural area when the wind is not blowing. When placing turbines on the maps, the default noise level at neighbouring properties is set to be less than 40dBA.

Many of the proposed sites have a relatively high ambient noise level, often from road traffic and proximity to built up areas.  While an ambient day time noise level in some location may well be 35dBA or less, this is quite unusual in the vicinity of the proposed sites and would need to be considered if and when these sites are developed.

Noise from wind turbines is site and wind speed/direction dependant, so the mapping circles we have provided are only indicative.  More detailed and specific measurements will be made as part of any and every turbine application, so the local community will have the ability to comment.

The UK comprehensive guidelines for Assessment & Rating of Noise from Wind Farms quotes the following from the WHO:

Few people are seriously annoyed during the daytime at noise levels below around 55dB(A)Leq outdoors. Noise levels during the evening and night should be 5 to 10dB lower than during the day

Ecological and Land Use Impacts

The main ecological concern of wind turbines relates to bats and birds. For both bats and birds there are mitigation solutions, which suggests that a strategy of monitoring and mitigation is likely to be effective.

Apart from the relatively small loss of land needed to support a wind turbine and gain maintenance access, there are no other significant impacts to land use or its ecological value.

Bats

Exeter University undertook research on the interaction between bats and wind turbines for DEFRA by monitoring a number of wind sites, a range of wind conditions and recording bat fatalities.  More accessible references, are:

It seems that some relatively simple mitigation measures can allow wind turbines to generate most of the time:

  • Turbines only turned off when there is a high risk to bats (example low wind, summer evenings), turbines can now have this automated.
  • Ongoing monitoring to refine the circumstances when turning off needs to occur.
  • Absence of bats at the pre-construction stage is not a good indicator of their absence during turbine operation.  Subsequent mitigation is more likely to be effective than pre-construction surveys.
  • There are devices that emit an ultrasonic signal, which effectively blocks the bat’s radar, so they do not approach the turbine. This is mounted on the turbine

Birds

Several references suggest there are much higher numbers of bird deaths in general from cats, collision with windows and traffic compared to deaths from wind turbines.

This reference discusses both bats and birds. It suggests that large birds are more at risk than smaller ones.  It reports Norwegian research where turbines with one blade painted in a contrasting colour has dramatically reduced fatalities.

Infrastructure and Highways Impacts

These include site access during construction, especially for larger turbines.  The consultation states that these will be considered on a case by case.

Connection to the electricity network is a key factor.  There does not appear to be much consideration for this in terms of site selection.  We have included mapping information on current electricity distribution/transmission lines and sub-station.

The distribution network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD) has been made aware of these potential sites.  This information should allow them to better consider strategic network reinforcement, something they are not currently required to do by the regulator Ofgem.

Landscape and Heritage Impacts

Undoubtedly most wind turbines will have a visual impact.  Like electricity pylons, roads and housing developments, they are manmade structures in the natural environment.  The question we need to answer is what the balance is between the benefits and the detriments.

To minimise their visual impact, wind turbines are painted white or grey to blend into the sky when viewed from the ground.  The lower part of the mast can be painted to allow this to blend into the surrounding’s natural structures.  For safety reasons wind turbines need to be visible from overhead low flying aircraft.

We are more likely to accept new structures that are familiar to us, like roads and housing.  This despite them having a greater detrimental visual, ecological and of course greenhouse gas emission impact compared to wind turbines.  Road and housing are also more likely to persist for a lot longer than wind turbines, if eventually we are able to generate our energy from other low Carbon technologies.  We could also limit wind turbine deployment if we become more careful about how much energy we consume and distribute energy better.

Other Notes

This space is made available in the on-line consultation for making comments on the benefit and impact of wind turbines not covered above.

We believe that if we are to avoid the existential threats resulting from Climate Change, on-shore wind turbines will be necessary.  They are by far the most effective renewable technology available to us now.  Nothing comes without a degree of negative impact, we need to minimise the impact of wind turbines.  The consultation materials list many of these safeguards, you can also read general references to these on the internet, e.g. for on-shore wind.

ACT Responds to the Local Plan

ACT has produced a response to the local plan in two parts.

We have looked at carbon emissions arising as a consequence of the sites proposed, here the principles relate to the plan in general.

Our wildlife wardens have been busy gathering information about many sites, and some have submitted responses for their areas individually. Here is the response on ecological matters, which includes information about many sites.

We have also studied chapter 11 low carbon, in detail and have been assured that a further consultation on renewable sites will occur later in the year. Chapter 11 is based on a report from Exeter University, which identifies the district’s energy requirements and potential for renewable generation. We await this consultation with interest.

An idea for the Heart of Teignbridge

The government demands that the local plan provides sites for about 750 houses per year over the next 20 years in Teignbridge.

Where homes are built makes a difference to carbon emissions.

If you build small flats in town centres:

  • There are fewer emissions from construction.
  • There are fewer ongoing emissions.
  • You don’t need a car, so there is a chance of no private transport emissions.

This post considers how far this could be achieved in the Heart of Teignbridge using the sites already identified in part 2 of the local plan. It is quite a long post which includes some feasibility calculations, which considers:

Overall allocation of sites in the plan

Part 2 of the local plan identifies more new sites than are needed to meet this when sites already allocated in the existing plan are taken into account.

The plan proposes that the allocations are split between the areas identified as follows:

  • Heart of Teignbridge: 40% (c. 2,920 homes)
  • Edge of Exeter: 24% (c. 1,800 homes)
  • Dawlish: 14% (c. 1000 homes)
  • Teignmouth: 1% (c. 100 homes)
  • Bovey Tracey: 3.5% (c. 250 homes)
  • Ashburton: 3.5% (c. 250 homes)
  • Villages: 14% (c. 960 homes)

Each site has a suggested minimum and maximum number of homes, the following table is derived from these, and shows the level of choice in each area:

The columns in this table are sourced from the local plan documents as follows:

  • Proposed distribution comes from ‘How much housing development is required’ in chapter 2.
  • Min is the sum of the lower number of homes for each site in the area, taken from chapters 3 to 10.
  • Max is the sum of the higher number of homes for each site in the area, taken from chapters 3 to 10
  • Min <= 1ha is the sum of the lower number of homes for each site in the area, where the site is less than 1 hectare (and so suitable for a smaller developer).
  • Max <= 1ha is the sum of the higher number of homes for each site in the area, where the site is less than 1 hectare (and so suitable for a smaller developer).
  • %required min is the proportion of Min that would be required to satisfy the proposed distribution.
  • %required max is the proportion of Max that would be required to satisfy the proposed distribution. This indicates the level of choice between sites given in the plan.
  • Notes are any observations.

For the sake of argument let’s accept this distribution. It shows that there is a considerable amount of choice of sites in the Heart of Teignbridge, Dawlish, Bovey Tracey and the villages.

The rest of this post considers a possible allocation for the Heart of Teignbridge.

Allocation in the Heart of Teignbridge

Within the Heart of Teignbridge the sites are subdivided into Urban Renewal sites, which are on existing land that has already been developed for other purposes, and the rest of the Heart of Teignbridge.

Enough of the sites in the Heart of Teignbridge to meet the allocation of 2920 are shown in the following table:

Some of the sites towards the bottom of the table have been chosen to make up the numbers, but this allocation tries to avoid using green field sites that are away from current development.

This post considers putting the maximum possible amount of development into the Urban Renewal sites, this has a number of advantages:

  • The homes delivered will all be within easy walking distance of:
    • Newton Abbot Station
    • Bus services
    • Newton Abbot town centre
    • The combined cycleway/footpath towards Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead to the north, and currently to the Passage House, soon to be extended to Teignmouth.
    • Hackney marshes
  • The need for car ownership for day to day use would be minimised:
    • occasional car use could be provided by a car club.
    • Day to day car use would only be needed if work demanded it.
    • The need for further car parking would be minimised.
    • Car traffic growth would be minimised.
  • These sites suit smaller dwellings and these is a proven demand for smaller dwellings.
  • The combination of smaller dwellings and possibilities for active travel and use of public transport will give the smallest carbon footprint.
  • Development of green field sites further out away from the centre is minimised.

We then consider other sites as near to the Town Centre as possible. The A382 development is already in progress, and there is relatively level access to the town centre along this corridor. This favours the Berry Knowles, Caravan Storage and Forches Cross sites. Unfortunately we still need to find 424 homes from the remaining sites.

Housing Need

The latest TDC housing policy document states that there is a waiting list of about 1000 applicants, and that 51% of these applicants are looking for a single bed property the proportion of property types required by applicants is shown in the following table:

Additionally 1 in 3 Teignbridge residents is over 65 years old, so probably doesn’t have children.

This says that there is a need to smaller properties, which could be flats.

There is clearly a need for social and affordable housing, as the waiting list recently has been about 1000 applicants, with about 350 applicants being housed each year. If the waiting list were to be substantially reduced over say 4 years to 100, then an additional 225 affordable homes per year would be required.

On average 137 new affordable homes are provided, other applicants are housed from existing stock. So the number of new affordable homes needs to increase to about 425. That would leave 325 open market homes from the obligatory 750 allocation.

Housing Density

Housing density is expressed in dwellings per hectare (dph), the area part of this measure includes estate roads, but excludes major thoroughfares.

The Teignbridge Urban design guide gives suggested densities for different situations:

From the developable area and maximum homes stated for Urban Renewal areas we can calculate the maximum dwellings per hectare:

Kingsteignton retail park site has a maximum density of 37.04, which is low for an urban area. This is a large site, so makes a big difference to the overall numbers, developing this at 50dph delivers an additional 175 homes.

If all the sites were developed at a density of 70 dph, then only 522 more homes would be required, so only the Berry Knowles and Forches Cross sites would be needed in addition to the Urban Renewal sites. Some sites are already allocated at more than 70 dph, so setting this as a minimum gives 2466 homes, so we are left with 454 to find.

If a minimum of 84.5 dph was set over this area, then 2932 homes would be delivered, which is enough to satisfy the Heart of Teignbridge allocation.

When I originally wrote this section I has misread the developable area of Brunel as 22 hectares, which makes the calculations better. If the developable are of Brunel or Kingsteignton retail park could be increased by 7ha between both sites, then the average density required overall could be reduced to 70dph.

What does 70 dwellings per hectare look like?

The following pictures are from the TDC Urban Design Guide:

So the Teignmouth block to the top left is at 70 dph. These examples are in the Teignbridge Vernacular. For a larger development such as Brunel, a complementary, but more modern style might be appropriate.

Consider the following example from the paper on housing density from Havant council:

I am sure that an imaginative architect could manage better!

So it looks like 70 dph is achievable if most dwellings are small and development is up to 3 storeys.

What should the housing mix be?

In order to substantially reduce the housing waiting list we need to deliver about 425 affordable homes per year. The mix for these should follow the mix of dwelling sizes required by applicants. If the urban renewal area were developed using this mix then the numbers would be as follows:

Here we have split 2 and 3 bed dwellings equally between flats and houses.

What would be the carbon footprint of this development be?

The carbon footprint that can be attributed to this development is made up from:

  • Embedded emissions from construction of dwellings.
  • Operational emissions from buildings in use.
  • Transport emissions

For buildings emissions can be approximately calculated from floor area, we assume that development is to the minimum space standard introduced in 2015. This standard takes into account the number of occupants as well as the number of bedrooms, so a one bedroom flat may have one or two occupants. Apply the minimum floor areas in this standard to our required annual housing numbers:

Embedded emissions from construction depend on the construction type, the following values are assumed, and are applied to a floor area of 45969 m2:

CLT stands for cross laminated timber, which is a lightweight construction that can be used for up to 9 storeys. It lends itself to offsite pre-fabrication. CLT panels have good thermal properties.

The above embedded emissions do not take account of sequestration caused by the carbon sequestered whilst trees are growing being locked up in the structure of a dwelling. If this is taken into account it could be that CLT construction is carbon negative.

The operational emissions can be approximated from past energy performance certificates, combined with an aspiration that the new building regulations will reduce operational emissions to 25% of current building regulations. The average current CO2 emissions from properties with an EPC rating C and above since 2015 is about 24kg CO2e/m2/year. So we assume that these dwellings will be built to 6kg CO2e/m2/year. This gives operational emissions of 276 tCO2e per year.

As no car travel is necessary with these sites, there are no additional transport emissions.

If the urban renewal sites are built at 750 dwellings per year, it will take nearly 4 years to construct these dwellings. If we allocate embedded emissions to the year of construction, then the total emissions over the first few years would be:

Comparison with development of more out of town sites

Suppose that instead we built 750 brick built 3/4 bedroomed homes on sites 3 miles from the town centre.

Assume these have an average floor area of 100m2, then the embedded emissions would be 73.1 tonnes per house, or 54,825 tonnes for 750 houses.

The operational emissions would be 450 tonnes per year.

We assume that a resident 3 miles from the town centre travels everywhere by car including travel to work, shopping and leisure. This might amount to 8,000 miles per year. Worse sites 3 miles from the town centre are generally at a higher altitude, so will require additional energy to go uphill that is not regained downhill. 8,000 miles in an average petrol or diesel car emits 2.5 tCO2e/year, and a diesel 2.2 tCO2e/year. Even an EV powered from grid electricity would emit 0.8tCO2e/year. If we assume 20% EV, 40% diesel and 40% petrol, then the average car would emit about 2t CO2e/year.

Even if we assume 1 car per house, then there are an additional 1500 tonnes from cars. It would be more realistic to assume 2 cars with one being used less, so effectively 1.5 cars.

Putting all this together for the first few years we get:

Once built this option has nearly 10 times the emissions than the alternative low carbon option.

Site options for the Teignbridge local plan to be consulted on

A meeting of the council executive on 1st June passed a motion to run a public consultation on site options for the local plan from 14th June to 9th August.

Executive Committee meeting

You can watch the proceedings of the executive committee here , this gives access to a recording of the whole meeting, the local plan is item 6 on the agenda, which you can select from the menu on the right.

Jackie Hook said “We will have to choose some sites, help us to choose the least damaging. This isn’t however about who can gather the biggest petition against a site, this is about bringing to the council’s attention additional planning related information and knowledge.”

Local plan consultation on sites

Part 2 of the local plan has now been published and can be found here.

Housing Numbers

As you may know, the Government has told Teignbridge it must build 751 houses a year (they had planned to order 1,532 houses a year!). The council therefore has to identify the sites where the houses can be built. If we do not do this the Government will take over planning at Teignbridge and increase the numbers by 20%.

This consultation asks that members of the public help by:

  1. Checking through the sites and see what may be proposed in your community and commenting about the sites.
  2. Sharing the consultation with your friends and family living in Teignbridge. It’s really important as many people as possible know about the proposals and say what they think to Teignbridge.

This could well be the last time local people are given a say in major planning decisions like this.
The Government is proposing to bring in a new system under which land will be zoned. Anything designated for ‘growth’ will be deemed to have ‘planning permission in principle’.
Government ministers claim their plan will eliminate ‘red tape’ but many fear that it abolishes any meaningful involvement of residents and local councils in planning matters.
The consultation on the possible housing sites ends at 12 Noon on Monday 9th August 2021. Do please have your say 

Low Carbon

Chapter 11 states Teignbridge’s 2018 carbon footprint and analyses emissions trends over the period 2008-2018, showing that the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors have not reduced over that period.

Electricity consumption is estimated to grow from 468GWh to 940GWh (101%) as a result of electrification of heat and transport, as well as growth associated with growth mandated by the plan.

The report doesn’t give any detail of how this electrification will be achieved, but the proposed increase in electricity consumption is close to our own estimates based on widespread EV take-up and retrofitting the existing housing stock to near Passiv Haus standards. Indeed the growth in electricity demand is slightly lower than we estimated, so some other demand reduction must be assumed.

Possible sites are identified for 217GWh of wind and 726GWh of solar, totalling 953GWh. So on a whole year basis enough to meet demand. The report identifies a number of constraints, which mean that this much renewable generation is unlikely to be buildable.

Peak demand occurs in the winter, when solar generation is producing least. We see already that in the recent sunny period that grid carbon intensity for the South West can get as low as 30g/kWh when most energy comes from solar and nuclear. Contrast this with winter when on a calm day most of our electricity in the South West comes from gas when grid carbon intensity can exceed 400g/kWh.

The report identifies an increase of 201GWh of demand from heating, which will mainly be needed in the winter months. It also identifies 49 GWh from additional housing, if we assume that this will also be biased towards winter, the additional winter demand could increase to 230GWh. This is more than could be supplied by the identified wind resource. So Teignbridge will need to import more renewable energy from elsewhere during the winter.

A large amount of land is identified as suitable for solar development. Here there is also scope for a significant contribution from rooftop PV, however, this is limited in practice by the ability of local substations to deal with local generation.

Fast Access tool for planning applications

We have written a tool which enables you to see details of all active planning applications on a single interactive page. This enables applications to be filtered by date range, parish, ward or Wildlife Warden area, type, decision level. Text search on address, proposal and document description and title is also provided.

A summary of each application is shown with reference number and proposal, this can be expanded to show all details and the latest documents relating to the application. There are links from the reference number to the application on the TDC site, as well as to the documents page for the application.

A full description of the application is here.

The tool is available here.

Some filters have been preconfigured:

Teignbridge progress with the climate and ecological emergency

Cllr. Jackie Hook, executive member for Climate Change, Flooding and Coastal Defence reported to Teignbridge District Council’s (TDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9th February 2021.

Here is a video clip of her report

She reported on TDC’s work on Climate change and the Ecological Emergency:

  • TDC appointed William Elliot in February 2020 as Climate Change Officer
  • TDC has met regularly with ACT to discuss direction and progress on the climate and ecological agenda.
  • In October 2019 policy S7 of the current local plan was amended to uplift the carbon reduction by 2030 from 42% to 48%. The carbon calculator has been updated to only consider building emissions.
  • A new draft local plan for 2020 – 2040 has been published including a whole chapter on climate change and went to consultation March to July 2020.
  • University of Exeter is developing a low carbon strategy to determine where and how renewable energy generation and low carbon development should feature in the district, and will feature in Part 2 of the local plan.
  • South West Exeter District Heating Network will supply low-carbon heat to 2,500 new homes, using waste energy from Matford.
  • Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles policy
  • Rapid EV Chargers in Chudleigh and Buckfastleigh as part of Highways England Scheme.
  • Authority participating in DELETTI and will install double rapid EV chargers in four of Teignbridge’s AQMAs.
  • Shortlist of 12 sites selected in collaboration with parish councils for On-street Residential Charging Scheme (ORSCS) in car parks.
  • Draft local plan requires installation of EV chargers in new development.
  • Joint bid submitted under the Cosy Devon partnership to delivery energy efficiency improvements for low-income households. A further bid for £1.14M has been submitted to deliver authority led improvements.
  • The Authority has participated in the Solar Together scheme. 917 solar PV and 153 battery storage systems are proposed as part of the scheme across Devon.
  • Low-carbon social housing projects include Drake Road, East Street and Sherbourne House. These will achieve high carbon and energy standard and feature Air Source Heat Pumps and EV charging points.
  • William Elliot has been measuring the authority’s own carbon footprint, annually Scope 1 & 2 emissions are 2Mt CO2 and Scope 3 emissions 6.7Mt
  • The Authority is currently working on a Carbon Action Plan to identify a cost and carbon efficient pathway to becoming carbon neutral, which will cover about 40 projects across 15 buildings owned by the authority. A budget of £E3.6M over 2021-2024 has been allocated, and a grant application for £3.1M has been submitted covering seven sites, which could deliver a combined reduction of 400 tonnes of CO2/yr. A full report will be submitted to Executive Council in April 2021.
  • TDC is a signatory of the Devon Climate Emergency and is supporting the Devon Carbon Plan, the consultation on the interim plan has just ended, following a Citizen’s Assembly the final Devon Carbon Plan is due for adoption by Local Authorities in summer 2021.
  • Following the declaration of an Ecological emergency in September 2020, plans are in hand to plant 1,500 trees in Q1 2021 in partnership with the Woodland Trust and Idverde. A tree strategy is progressing and a draft will be available for consultation in Q1 2021. The Authority has committted £5,000 to Devon Wildlife Trust to support a habitat mapping exercise.
  • It was reported that ACT’s Wildlife Warden Scheme has received 75 applications and has trained 50 wardens to date.

Heat pump pros and cons

I remember as a student putting a shilling (2.5p) in the meter to run one bar of an electric fire for an hour to heat my single room. The heat was soon lost again due to poor insulation. 

I now live in a large house heated to a steady 21C by an air source heat pump that uses less energy per hour than the one bar fire did to heat a single room, even in cold weather. It also heats water twice a day to 55C. 

Our heat pump works by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat water,  which then circulates through the underfloor heating system. This works well because the floor area radiating heat is much larger than traditional radiators, so the circulating water does not need to be as hot as in a conventional system. The key point is that the electrical energy needed to run the pump is much lower than the heat energy it provides.

Many households will need to replace their gas or oil boilers with heat pumps if we are to have any chance of reaching the government’s net zero carbon target by 2050. Heating accounted for nearly one third of UK household greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the Energy Saving Trust. We need to cut heating emissions by 95% to reach net zero by 2050, it says.

So far we have made little progress. Currently, biomass is the main source of low emission heat in British homes, primarily supplied via wood burning stoves. Around 1 million homes make use of this energy source, according to the Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK government. Heat pumps account for fewer than one in 100 sales a year of heating systems and show little sign of becoming more popular.

Part of the problem is that heat pumps work best in houses that are well insulated and airtight. That makes them a good choice for new build houses. My house, for example, was built 10 years ago and designed for maximum energy efficiency. It is an oak framed building with insulated wall and roof panels, underfloor insulation and triple glazed windows. Plus solar panels and the heat pump. It has an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A and is as airtight as possible while still being well ventilated.

Installations in older buildings are possible but it is important to obtain a professional whole house heat loss calculation so that the heat pump and radiators or underfloor heating are correctly sized. If this is not done a heat pump may not work well. 

It is likely you will have to improve your home’s insulation before you can install a heat pump, but this is an investment worth making however you decide to heat your home. It will reduce your energy use, which is the first step to decarbonising your home.

December 2020 Wildlife Warden Newsletter

In a year that has been difficult for everyone, it has been immensely uplifting to see so many people enthusiastic about helping nature bounce back. Thanks to all of you for the time and energy that you have put into this scheme. At the time of writing, we have almost 50 Wildlife Wardens signed up , representing 24 of the 54 parishes in Teignbridge. I look forward to seeing your great ideas being implemented in 2021!    

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