New guidance on community-scale energy projects

Published on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 10:45
Posted by Scott Buckler

A new report from the UK Green Building Council has set out to clarify the legal process for creating community-scale heating and energy schemes – such as district heating and heat networks

The aim is to encourage more local authorities to integrate these schemes into new and existing developments.

The report is the culmination of a UK Green Building Council Task Group which brought together a cross-section of industry experts, including developers, energy providers, local authorities and other stakeholders, to identify ways to help anyone trying to implement community-scale energy infrastructure projects. It simplifies the complex legal landscape that often forms a barrier to such schemes progressing.

Over the past few years, policy-makers, local councils and utility providers have placed increasing emphasis on the need to integrate community-based solutions into developments. However, it has typically been difficult to get these kinds of projects up and running. The report provides an insight into the key legal issues that need to be considered – from initial set-up right through to the consumer's experience of locally-delivered energy or heating.

A number of case studies featured in the report demonstrate the benefits of localised infrastructure schemes. For example, a community-based Combined Heat and Power project running in King's Cross anticipates carbon savings of over 45%, while the Southampton District Energy Scheme is currently saving 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. These case studies are designed to inspire other councils to set up more such schemes.

The report is being launched today (05 July) at Skanska's Hollywood House office in Woking - the first commercial building to tap into Woking's energy centre via a Combined Heat and Power plant.

Paul King, CEO at the UK Green Building Council said:

"Community-scale energy solutions make lots of sense for householders, local communities and government – environmentally, socially and economically. We need to make it simple for partners to implement decentralised energy solutions and this piece of work provides important signposting and guidance in a confusing and complex landscape of legal issues."

Colin Hall, Partner at Winckworth Sherwood LLP and Chair of UK-GBC Legal Frameworks for Sustainable Energy Infrastructure Task Group said:

"Understanding the legal issues associated with community energy solutions has always been one of the stumbling blocks to the wide scale roll out of district heating networks for both new developments and the country's existing stock. This legal guidance aims to provide a foundation of legal knowledge in non-legal language to those partners looking to create or facilitate community schemes. It is hoped this will incentivise an increased roll out of community scale schemes which can only bring positive benefits to communities and beyond."

The Task Group has been run in conjunction with the Zero Carbon Hub and was sponsored by E.ON, Berkeley Group and the NHBC Foundation.

Marco Marijewycz, Advocacy and Stakeholder Manager at E.ON said:

"The UK Green Building Council's latest report is an invaluable resource for local authorities, planners, developers and consultants. A local approach to energy and heating is one of the best ways of improving the sustainability of our communities and we hope that this report will make it easier for these kinds of schemes to flourish."

Neil Jefferson Director at NHBC Foundation and Chief Executive of the Zero Carbon Hub said:

"The new guidance published today by UK-GBC will help local authorities to engage communities and deliver affordable, sustainable and secure energy by giving them the tools they need to navigate the legal complexities of implementing sustainable energy infrastructure. This report is a timely contribution to the decentralised energy debate and will help as we develop our understanding of the most cost-effective and carbon-effective way to build zero carbon homes"

Ray Morgan, CEO at Woking Borough Council said:

"In Woking we have seen the success of implementing decentralised energy schemes and would encourage other councils to do the same. This report will provide much needed guidance and support for local authorities, the construction industry and property owners in helping them to understand and navigate the legal requirements of such schemes."

Source: ©UKGBC

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