RCEF Projects

Project Summary

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:

solar, wind, hydrogen, heat pumps, Grid, smart meters, smart energy trading, anaeobic digestion

(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 one.

Wind – 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.
– 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.
Heat Pumps
– 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 Parish.
– 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 national level.
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 silage.

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.