The Greener Great Coxwell group has been investigating a community owned, sustainable and secure energy project that would provide heating and hot water for the whole village.
With your support, we believe the objectives of such a scheme could be to –
- Provide the same temperature of hot water and central heating as your existing oil or gas boiler at less cost.
- Provide a sustainable and reliable supply of renewable heat energy for decades to come.
- Help to cut the carbon footprint of the village contributing towards the UK’s 2050 Carbon Neutral goals.
The scheme would potentially use a ground source heating system powered by a solar PV installation. Heat distribution would be through an insulated pipe network connected to each participating home via a small heat transfer unit. Similar schemes are common on the continent and several are under construction or in planning locally, for example at North Aston and Upper Heyford in north Oxfordshire and at Swaffham in Cambridgeshire (https://heatingswaffhamprior.co.uk ). Households not wishing to participate would not be affected in any way.
To help with our understanding and potential for such a scheme, we became members of the Low Carbon Hub (https://www.lowcarbonhub.org/), the Oxfordshire organisation working to promote Community based and sustainable energy sources, and the South East Energy Hub (www.energyhub.org.uk), a collaboration of Local Enterprise Partnerships working to support local energy projects in south-east England. The latter provides grants for feasibility studies and business development via the Rural Community Energy Fund, which we would hope to take advantage of. We have also made contact with other projects including Heating Upper Heyford (https://heatupperheyford.wixsite.com/website) and held discussions and taken expert advice from several renewable energy consultants.
All agreed that our scheme is potentially viable and worthy of your consideration and we are therefore writing to you asking for an indication of support from as many villagers as possible to enable us to progress to a grant funded research stage. To support us please go to our website and complete an expression of interest form at www.greenergreatcoxwell.com or e-mail email@example.com for more information. We will be manning a stand at the Great Barn Festival on 18-19th September and on 25th at Faringdon’s Great Green Day in the Faringdon Corn Exchange between 10:00-1:00. Later we will be arranging meetings or Zoom calls to discuss with anyone interested.
Expressing an interest is all that is required at this stage. Your expression of interest does not imply any other obligation or commitment.
At the moment details of a scheme are difficult to predict – the first and second rounds of grant funding are specifically to engage consultants to assess the project's feasibility, keep the community involved and plan the scheme in detail. However, we have some pointers from existing schemes:
- Planning would be grant funded so there are no initial costs. The planning procedure would also investigate the most appropriate source of development funding.
- Our aspiration is that there would be no installation costs and no service or equipment replacement costs. All costs are included in a monthly energy bill which is expected to be lower than current energy costs.
- The scheme would guarantee heat delivery of 72 degrees in the winter and 62 degrees in the summer which is the equivalent temperature of an oil or gas boiler. This has the advantage of plugging straight into your current hot water central heating systems. Service provision is also guaranteed.
- The monthly energy bill is made up of a standing charge and metered usage just like electricity or gas.
- The impact on the community and on the households of the change to the new scheme has been found to be minimal. The change from a boiler to the Heat Transfer Unit (HTU) is completed in a couple of days and the HTU is half the size of an average oil boiler.
- The solar installation and the boreholes for the heat pump would require a dedicated area of land and a small building to house the pumps and potentially heat storage units (hot water tanks). We would hope to lease this land from local landowners. Once the installation is complete the land would be suitable for use as pasture but the precise area required would depend on the take-up and geological factors that would be researched as part of the feasibility study.
- The financing model would be investigated during the second, business development round of grant funding. Development costs could come from grant money, loans or investment from community funds and may include investment opportunities for our community.
A comparable but slightly larger scheme is in progress at Swaffham in Cambridgeshire which is expected to sign up 150 households. You can get details of a more advanced project from their website - www.heatingswaffhamprior.co.uk .
We hope you will be interested in this scheme and will support us in seeking a research grant by completing an expression of interest form at the Great Barn Festival, visiting our website at www.greenergreatcoxwell.com or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Annabelle Zinovieff, Ken Hirons, Ian Mason, Karen Mason, Margaret O’Donohoe, Richard Benwell, Sophie Stainer, Jacqui Russell