Ed Miliband – Question 3

Q:

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Remote villages, especially in upland areas such as the Peak District, have significant opportunities for landscape-sensitive energy generation. What place is there for smaller community-scale renewable energy projects that fulfil local energy needs directly, without feeding into a national grid?

A:

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A big one! Local communities can spot new opportunities, and by working together can make sure their area leads the transition to low carbon.

The Government offers grants to allow householders, businesses and communities to install technologies such as micro turbines, combined heat and power, heat pumps and solar thermal. And in the Budget, the Chancellor said that over the next two years there will be another £70 million for decentralised small-scale and community low-carbon energy.

I think the role of communities generating their own clean power should not just be about being off the national grid, though. I want every town and village in the UK to be able to make the transition to low-carbon living, and to be able to make plans based on generating power, so I am introducing a guaranteed price for people to feed renewable electricity into the grid.

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7 responses

  1. John Twidell

    The question to the Minister shows lack of technical appreciation. An electricity grid enables users to share and ‘average out’ electricity, both by generating (exporting)into the network and by importing from the same wires. It is a form of farmers’ market, whereby those with an excessive supply of one crop can sell to those with less, and vice versa. The suggestion in the question that it is better to live in isolation than in a community is misguided. The main point is that just as we can grow much of our food, so too we can generate our own electricity, but nevertheless it is good to buy and sell (or give away) produce. It is however reasonable to encourage local transfers, since this keeps cash flowing locally with accompanying local economic strength.

    7 July, 2009 at 8:53 am

  2. John Twidell

    The question to the Minister shows lack of technical appreciation. An electricity grid enables users to share and ‘average out’ electricity, both by generating (exporting)into the network and by importing from the same wires. It is a form of farmers’ market, whereby those with an excessive supply of one crop can sell to those with less, and vice versa. The suggestion in the question that it is better to live in isolation than in a community is misguided. The main point is that just as we can grow much of our food, so too we can generate our own electricity, but nevertheless it is good to buy and sell (or give away) produce. It is however reasonable to encourage local transfers, since this keeps cash flowing locally with accompanying local economic strength.

    Any comments?

    7 July, 2009 at 8:55 am

    • Brian Skittrall

      I think that you have misunderstood the reason for the question. One of the reasons that remote rural communities are remote is because they are not on the grid. Renewables can give them heat and power without deliveries of fuel.

      We can not mitigate climate change if we only look at big solutions – particularly ones that don’t deliver what they promise.

      7 July, 2009 at 9:08 pm

  3. Dr Phillip Bratby

    The trouble is that most of these technologies, such as micro-turbines and solar are hopelessly uneconomic and many unwitting people end up getting their fingers badly burnt. Subsidising them is diverting resource from where it is needed. History has shown that government interference in the normal competitive marketplace always turns out to be a disaster.

    7 July, 2009 at 7:55 pm

  4. How to lobby government…. but do people really know the complete facts or are they simply signing up to somone’s interpretation of them

    “When an MP receives a hundred letters they take notice. When a company director gets a thousand postcards in the morning mail, it makes things happen.”

    The latest request was to ask Lord Mandleson to rescue the Wind Industry

    Abstract from FOE’s Campaign Express
    Posted for information as a community member

    23 July, 2009 at 8:43 pm

  5. James Connors

    For communities off the gas grid, renewable heat is desperately needed. Coal and heating oil are dirty and getting more and more expensive. What is needed is consistent support for anaerobic digestion, biogas and wood. Figures I’ve seen suggest that rural communities could be self sufficient in heating once the capital costs are paid. I hope Mr Miliband will support this.

    10 August, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    • Dr Phillip Bratby

      I am off the gas grid and do not see a desperate need for renewable heat. I have my own sustainable source of wood, but that is not available to all rural communities. I also use oil, which is clean and has not been getting more and more expensive. Without doubt, the best long term solution for heating is heat pumps (air or ground source), using electricity generated by gas or nuclear power stations. An efficiency of getting on for 200% can be achieved with stste-of-the-art heat pumps. All new buildings should be built incorporating heat pumps.

      10 August, 2009 at 2:03 pm

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