£9.4mn committed to geothermal transformation for Welsh coal mine
The Welsh council of Bridgend County Borough has been awarded £6.5mn from the European Union to transform an old coal mine into a geothermal energy source.
The investment will be used on the former Caerau colliery near Maesteg in the south of Wales, in a bid to supply 150 homes, a church, and a school with energy.
The EU will cover almost 70% of the project cost with the £6.5mn investment, with the remaining £2.9mn coming from the UK government, the Bridgend County Borough Council, and Energy Systems Catapult.
“Our ambition is for our nation to be a world leader in pioneering low carbon energy. This is a cutting-edge model of generating a clean source of renewable energy, drawing on the legacy of our coal mining heritage,” said Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning, and Rural Affairs.
“It will not only attract further investment to the area, but also address fuel poverty by cutting energy bills and has the potential to be rolled out to Wales and beyond.”
“This EU-funded scheme will also create jobs both within the initial construction period and the ongoing supply chain, as well as offering training and educational opportunities in a very innovative area.”
Water from the former coal mine has been heated by the earth, and so the first priority of the project is to research how to extracted the heated water.
The council plan to use heat pump technology and a network of pipes, and if the research is successful, the construction will begin in 2020, and could be expanded to cover up to 1,000 homes.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.