In an unprecedented partnership for Buckinghamshire, a local community energy group, Buckinghamshire Council and six organisations at the heart of Wendover’s community life have come together in an ambitious project to reduce the village’s carbon footprint and save money on energy by installing a range of renewable energy sources.
Funded by a grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund, Buckinghamshire Community Energy is working with consultants ReEnergise to carry out a feasibility study to see whether it is possible to take John Colet School, John Hampden School, Wendover Junior School, Wendover Swimming Pool, Wendover Youth Centre and Wendover Memorial Hall off gas and use alternative renewable energy sources such as a ground source heat pump to provide heating and hot water.The study will also investigate the possibility of installing solar panels on as many buildings on the Wharf Road Campus as possible in order to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.
Collectively these organisations use 570,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 1,510,000 kWh of gas per year at an estimated combined annual cost of £143,500 and 398 tonnes of carbon emissions.
That’s the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of 138 average homes, which Kirsty Shanahan, Development Director at Buckinghamshire Community Energy, says highlights the important role publicly-owned buildings have to play in getting to Net Zero.
“On the recommendation of Climate Action Wendover, we chose the Wharf Road Campus area because the site has a lot of energy use within all the buildings, and is absolutely at the heart of the community,” she says. “Saving these organisations money on energy will enable them to spend that money on other things to benefit local people, and will help the whole of Wendover to reduce its carbon footprint significantly.”
As well as the financial support from the Government through the Rural Community Energy Fund, the feasibility study has got the blessing of Buckinghamshire Council as it develops the plans to deliver its Climate Change Strategy, approved last year.
Peter Strachan, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment and local ward member for Wendover said:
“I very much welcome this work being undertaken here in Wendover. Although the organisations which operate on the site are independent, Buckinghamshire Council remains the freeholder and so we will have an important role in enabling the delivery of a project on the ground.
“It’s fantastic to see communities taking such innovative and proactive approaches in addressing the climate crisis and I am delighted that as a Council we are able to support and enable this particular project.
“This is exactly the kind of project we need in order to help reach our goal of net zero carbon emissions in Buckinghamshire by 2050.
“I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the report and I hope that we will be able to move forward in a positive way.”
The report from the study, due to be completed in late April, will make recommendations for electricity-based heating for all the buildings on the site, as well as energy efficiency measures and solar panels.
ReEnergise are specialists in finding cost-effective renewable energy solutions for schools. The Zero-Carbon Schools initiative was started by Steve Faucherand, CEO, and the team at ReEnergise, due to their passion for creating a greener environment for future generations. The team actively promotes the national net-zero agenda, within the industry and in the classroom, and are currently supporting 50 schools and colleges to optimise projects at various stages of the decarbonisation process.
About the Rural Community Energy Fund
The Rural Community Energy Fund is a £10 million programme that supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects with community benefit. It is being delivered by the five Energy Hubs in the North East, North West, Midlands, South West and South East of England on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
The aims of the Fund are to:
Support rural communities by helping them to maximise the income-generating potential of renewable energy and put this income to work in their local area
Increase the uptake of community and locally-owned renewable energy to support the Government’s targets for renewable energy and carbon reduction
Enable communities to access the economic and social benefits associated with renewable energy schemes through the promotion of rural growth, job creation and volunteering opportunities.