Present: Alan Mawer, Alexina Cassidy, Clare Slater, Clare Robertson Marriott, David Wragg, Dmitry Borisovich, Ella Mansfield, Emmie Williamson, Harry Mellor, Jane Wood, Jonathan Harris, Leonie Beale, Rupert Frost, Rupert Knowles
Apologies: Briony Askew, Maria Lee, Olivia Stevenson, Yvonne Mitton
This meeting was recorded and will be published through the CA-WN YouTube channel in a few weeks (some elements of Nicole’s talk are time-sensitive). If you would like to see the recording please email email@example.com for a link.
Nicole's presentation slides can be downloaded here Net Zero Power slides
Net Zero Power System 2035
This presentation was given by guest speaker Nicole Johnstone, who is the Marketing & Communications Manager at Habitat Energy, part of EDF Renewables but gave this presentation in a personal capacity based on her career in the energy industry.
These are some key points from Nicole's talk:
Why flexibility is key to a net zero power system
· Energy accounts for 26% of CO2 emissions
· The ‘energy trilemma’ is clean, affordable and secure power. The UK’s target is to have a net zero power system by 2035. It is expected that the UK will have short periods of zero carbon electricity by 2025.
· Electricity supply must be equal to demand. If there is not enough electricity in the system there will be blackouts; if too much, distribution equipment becomes overloaded and starts to fail. So National Grid have to be very responsive to keep frequency at 50Hz. Gas and coal fired power stations can be turned up or down relatively easily, whereas wind and solar can’t so other ways have to be found of balancing supply and demand.
· The electricity network used to be very linear i.e. centralised production with power being pushed out to end users. Now there is consumer end supply (e.g. solar PV) as well as demand, so the electricity system is needed to be bi-directional, which it’s not designed for.
· Nuclear energy is ‘clean’, in terms of not producing greenhouse gas emissions, though with other issues. It is also not very flexible, so is best suited to provide baseload supply.
· Gas-fired power stations can be run ‘part-loaded’ to make them more responsive to intra day fluctuations.
· Wind and solar electricity producers have been paid to turn off production at times when there is low demand resulting in over-supply. Renewable energy sources are variable and intermittent – so there is a requirement to turn that into flexible power supply.
Tools which can deliver flexibility:
· Energy storage; UK battery capacity needs to increase from current 2 gigawatts (Gw) to 18Gw
· Interconnectors – power lines which flow both ways to Europe so power can be moved
· Demand side response; suppliers have been paying people to reduce consumption during evening peak. There is also an estimated 6 Gw of demand that can be moved without affecting people eg in industrial processes involving heating and cooling which would be unaffected by power being cut for short periods. A similar principle applies domestically, for example home fridges could retain temperature levels if the motor is not running for short periods during peak (this would be automated so invisible to the householder)
· Electric vehicles (EVs) – EVs both store and use electricity, and could export back to the grid to be used to increase overall UK battery capacity
· Batteries; the last UK blackout was in 2019, caused by a lightning strike combined with a gas power station tripping out and loss of power from an offshore wind farm. The blackout was arrested within minutes, largely because of batteries which can respond in milliseconds to export power. Batteries also help with inertia, which coal fired power stations have and renewables don’t (i.e. coal fired stations keep producing power for a short period after a problem starts). Speedy response of batteries help make up for this loss of inertia.
Energy Superhub Oxford
· This is running as a 4 year project with 6 partners including EDF and Oxford CC
· The electricity system is made up of the transmission network (e.g. pylons) and the distribution network (local power cables linking transmission network to end users)
· Transition to renewables puts the distribution network under strain and this is holding up some solar projects. This project aimed to connect directly to the transmission network, a potentially more efficient way to make use of existing infrastructure. It is the first battery in the UK to be directly connected to the transmission network. The battery gets paid for services provided to National Grid, which helps pay for operating costs.
· The battery shares connection with an EV charging hub about 4 miles away. This has 42 charge points, a mixture of ultra rapid and slower charging. There is enough capacity at the site to charge 400 cars when demand increases.
· There are 40 more similar sites planned across the country
In response to a question about sourcing of rare metals for batteries:
· Battery chemistry is changing, for example to use less cobalt in lithium ion batteries plus entirely new battery chemistries which have longer duration than lithium ion. Recycling is also improving and batteries will need to become a circular economy. All EDF batteries have a contracted route to recycling.
· The aim of the project is to move from a position where over 50% of the ~174k homes in West Northants are energy inefficient, to a situation where householders are comfortable, with lower heating bills, and GHG emissions from heating are significantly lower.
· In order to identify energy efficiency opportunities we need to measure the thermal performance of each house as an individual home, with differing characteristics and residents. We used data loggers in homes (recording humidity and temperature 24/7) which helped to tell us more about the occupational behaviour of the inhabitants.
· As a step up from this we now have a technology based solution to try. This will involve running data loggers over an extended period, measuring energy use at the start and end of the measurement period as well as measuring the thermal capacity of the building. The technical solution will triage the data and produce a household report which will give an initial list of possible improvements.
· We need to complete initial measurement of a few representative homes by the end of March and will then take the results of that pilot to community groups and parishes.
· EPC (energy performance certificates) provide home efficiency improvement recommendations, but these are very generalised. The technology we are looking at will enable us to give much more targeted advice.
· More in depth measurement using other tools could also be done if the householder wanted after seeing the initial report.
· CA-WN would look to build on this over the course of several years to develop a retrofit programme, including pipelines for materials supply and training of tradesmen to complete the work. Currently there is not the workforce with cross disciplinary skills needed to provide the service householders need.
WNC emissions reporting
· WNC have been collecting internal emissions data for several months and have now published their report, which is available on their website https://www.westnorthants.gov.uk/news/council-takes-step-forward-meeting-sustainability-pledge
· The report to Cabinet which accompanied the public report can be read here (starting on page 405) (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Cabinet, 13/02/2023 18:00 (moderngov.co.uk)
· The council are also planning to publish a baseline emissions report for the area as a whole (sourced from publicly available data).
· We are planning a tree-planting event in Towcester on Saturday 18 March, followed by a social get-together at the Sawpits in Towcester. Further details to follow, all welcome.
· The Gathering meeting room in the Grosvenor Centre has been booked for Saturday 8 July for another social event.
· Please get in touch if you have any requests or ideas for what you would like to see or do as part of either of these events
· JW and HM have given a talk to Illustration students at the University of Northampton, along with the Northampton Town Climate Change Forum and Northampton Living Streets.
· The students are doing a module based on climate activism and some of the Year 2 students are creating some new public engagement materials for CA-WN. The ideas they have come up are very different to anything we have done before and we’re looking forward to sharing the results.
· AC asked whether anyone would be willing to help create a Useful Links and Resources page for CA-WN Exchange, as a one-off short term project. Once this has been set up and published, it can be kept up to date as we go. Please get in touch if you have time and inclination to help with this.