After reducing the energy demand of the houses significantly through insulation and the harvesting of passive solar energy, one option to offset the remaining energy consumption was to introduce on-site generation. We’re taking a different approach however, and investing in off-site generation.
Each house will have £1,500 of shares in a local community wind turbine project (in reality the house doesn’t have the shares, but the social landlord, Newark and Sherwood Homes (NSH) does). This investment is predicted to generate about 2,500kWh of electricity per year, effectively offsetting the equivalent consumption in the homes. NSH get an annual return on that investment, and no maintenance headaches of on-site renewables; and the tenant doesn’t get technology that they don’t understand and/or cannot operate.
And financially it stacks up too. Consider if we’d put solar panels on the roof (if we’d had the luxury of a south-facing roof). A 1kWp array (occupying around 10sqm of roof space) would have set us back about £6,000 and generated around 800kWh per year. Yet for a quarter of that cost we get in excess of 3 times the output, and none of the hassle of maintaining/operating it.
Today was the official opening (by Alan Simpson MP) of the community wind turbine at the nearby village of Hockerton. The houses couldn’t be there, but we went along for them and recorded the video below.