Monday, 18 March 2013

The Council must do more to promote buildings in Cornwall to be energy self sufficent

There's lots of things I'd like to see Cornwall Council doing. My blog on St Piran's day covered some of the areas in which I think the council needs to do more, remind yourself here if you so wish. The general thrust was that the council needs to look beyond itself and to helping Cornwall as a whole. Quite a while ago now, I blogged on the Inspirational Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network which is a great scheme for a community to come together and build renewables on their own terms, where they want them and for their own benefit. I am big fan of renewable energy, I think in Cornwall we need to look to the future and become less reliant on elsewhere for our power. Which also has the great benefit of bringing money into the Cornish economy. I think in the field of renewable energy the council must do more and look to ways in which existing and new businesses can be more energy self sufficient on a smaller scale than large wind farms and solar farms.

Many thanks to Craig Weatherhill for posting this photo to the Mebyon Kernow facebook page, which illustrates a great example of reneweables fitting into existing blots on the landscape if you will.

When I was on holiday back along, I saw a smaller scale scheme, like this picture again in Italy, again at a motorway services.  In the high heat of a gorgeous Italian summer is struck me how great it is to harness all that energy from the sun and how nice it would be to get back to your car considerably cooler from being in the shade. I guess at other times out of the rain too, although on that dry and dusty day the idea of it ever raining was a very distant possibility.

I must say credit to Cornwall Council, a few years back before austerity and job cuts were the only headlines coming from Lys Kernow. They did fit solar panels to the roof of the building and it's a great scheme. There's a roof there doing nothing, the solar panels are in no ones way, obscuring no ones view. We need to identify more potential like this, on council buildings, on supermarkets and industrial units.

These are the kind of simple innovative ideas that we must be looking to, another one of my pet rants that my friends and family are probably sick of hearing is water usage. I don't think I've blogged about this before apologies if I'm covering old ground. In Aberystwyth they have a relatively new Welsh Assembly Government building and they've made a great job of it with the water supply. The rain water that is collected on the roof is recovered and used in the building, a simple thing but it reduces the energy needed to treat water and get it to the building and it's just plain common sense. It never ceases to amaze and infuriate me that we live in a world where the water supply has been collected in lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Piped to centers to be filtered and treated with chemicals so it's safe to drink. All at a massive cost and then how much of it gets actually consumed by humans, how much of that treated drinking water is used to water gardens, clean cars, wash hands, bathed in and worst of all flushed down the toilet. We spend an absolute fortune on the treatment of water to make it safe to drink, in a land like Cornwall where rain is abundant we need to think differently.

If I have a vision for the future its one where we capture the solar and wave power, utilise the rainwater that's all around us. But not on a huge scale over a greenfields but on a small scale. Personally I'd love, to live somewhere with my own solar panels and rainwater collection. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be free of the likes of EDF, South West Water and the like. In terms of policy, we in Cornwall or should I say the council needs to find ways to encourage businesses and organisations including itself to find ways to become more self sufficient and when they start saving money pass on these savings to the people of Cornwall.


  1. The subsidy paid for solar power is several times what we would normally pay per unit of electricity, and the cost has to come from the rest of us. Whilst it may reduce CC's electricity bills to install panels on Council buildings and schools it simply shifts these inflated costs onto bill payers - a way of increasing Council tax by stealth.

    You should not stick your head in the sand while fuel poverty goes up and up and the shelves at the food banks get emptied. Remember that average global temperatures have stayed the same for 16 years - and counting.

    Scrapping (or even postponing) "Green Cornwall" could save around £6m this year and go a long way to resolving the budget crisis.

    1. Hi Dudley thanks for the comment. I understand your concerns about the rate of feed in tariffs and other schemes. I think in some regards your argument works best against solar farms and wind farms, they simply produce power to be fed into the national grid. It applies less to commercial buildings, homes and local authority buildings. If for example a school has solar panels on the roof the electricity it creates is used in the school, sure if they create an excess than they will sell it to the national grid. Therefore the bulk of the electricity is used in the school. Obviously there is an investment cost to install solar panels but after that the school/ council office will be receiving free energy. Your comment about council tax by stealth doesn't really apply as it will save Cornwall Council money. Further the FITs are paid by central government.

    2. Developers are paid at the applicable FIT rate for *every* unit they produce irrespective of whether or not they use it themselves. Anything exported to the grid attracts an additional 3-4p per unit (in fact it is most profitable for owners *not* to use their own electricity but to export it). There is no such thing as "free" energy.

      Where does this "central government" money come from? Are you suggesting it is some magical bottomless pit which we don't pay for?

    3. Apologies Dudley, I didn't realise the feed in tarriff paid people for electricty they use. I know payments come from central government, so far from being council tax by stealth it's giving money from central government to local government and businesses. I realise govt spending doesn't come from a bottomless pit, although quantative easing isn't far off that. What can I say I believethe govt should spend more taxpayers money in Cornwall, in this care and others.