Humshaugh Net Zero commissioned d3associates
and The Energy Workshop to carry out studies into various technologies in
November 2020. These studies were funded by a
grant from the Rural Communities Energy Fund.
The technologies and aspects of heat
and electricity generation investigated were:
(Hydropower was initially
included, but it was apparent that there was little potential in the Parish, so
this was not investigated further.)
The reports look at the potential
for each technology and the easily identifiable constraints applicable in the
Parish, but no detailed
plans were developed. They identified which technologies could make a
significant contribution to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions as a result
of our activities and lifestyle as revealed in the 2020 survey of the Parish.
Solar – this could make a contribution, but not a large
– this could supply electricity to meet our transport and heat needs, if
used to drive heat pumps. Under current planning guidance this would require
a large number of small turbines or the use of a large turbine installed in
the area but not in the Parish.Hydrogen –
the technology and infrastructure to exploit hydrogen are not available now
and are not likely to be available in the medium term in rural areas such as
Humshaugh. Production of hydrogen locally would be uneconomic.
air source heat pumps offer an effective and economic method of heating.
Ground source and small community schemes may well be viable soon. This will
undoubtedly make a serious contribution to reducing the carbon budget in the
Grid – the
local electricity grid will need upgrading to handle the increased use of
heat pumps and electric vehicles and for any significant new generation
schemes in the next few years, and the local utility, Northern Powergrid, are
aware of this. Smart Meters
– there are lots of smart meters in the village. The more recently installed
ones will be able to be used with the new tariffs for carbon free
electricity, but unfortunately the older ones might need replacing.
Smart Energy Trading– variable pricing of electricity takes automatic advantage of low
prices at certain times, possible when locally generated electricity is
available, and avoids using it when it is expensive. This is in its infancy: there are pilot
schemes operating around the country. It could offer lower cost of electricity
to the consumer and save investment in grid infrastructure at a regional and
Anaerobic Digestion– turning animal waste and vegetable matter into gas. This is not
feasible in Humshaugh: the farms are too small, and the grass is used for
The Next Stage
The reports have shown that there is an economically
viable route to Net Zero for electricity, heating and transport through the use
of wind, solar and heat pumps especially when combined with smart energy
controls and trading. Exactly how is the next question and will involve
discussions with the community, landowners, the Parish Council, Northumberland
County Council, electricity suppliers and equipment suppliers.