ECC | An Energy Neutral Council – A Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme Update

At its meeting held on 29 September 2016, Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee considerer the report of the Corporate Manager Property on An Energy Neutral Council – A Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme Update  

The minutes note:

The Corporate Energy Manager presented the report which provided an update on the second year of the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme, feasibility work for a new programme of projects to commence in 2017/18 and the outcome of recently completed greenhouse gas emission data across all the Council’s operations in 2015/16.

The Corporate Energy Manager updated Members on the following:-

  • the Livestock Centre Solar PV – benefits included the sale of discounted renewable energy to leaseholders providing the Council with an additional income;
  • Leisure Centres – Solar PV remains a feasible opportunity for our existing centres;
  • Battery Storage – this would allow the Council to take full advantage of solar energy generated;
  • LED Replacement Lighting in Car Parks– this work will be actioned once a full condition survey of car parks is complete;
  • Energy Monitoring – SMART control – improved and new methods of energy and data monitoring.

Members received a presentation illustrating a drop in CO2 emissions by 29% since 2009, and reduction in energy consumption following the installation of LED and Solar PV at the Civic Centre and Mary Archers Car Park.

There was further investigation required into the possibility of Solar PV at the Leisure Centres and the evaluation of opportunities and systems available to provide an improved method to reduce consumption and minimise costs.  Whilst the installation of renewables was effective, there was still work to be undertaken with regards to the Council’s management and monitoring of its buildings, so to reduce energy usage for the Council to achieve Energy Neutrality.

In response to a Member’s question, the Corporate Energy Manager clarified that the use of battery operated equipment and tools was not in the current programme at present, the focus was on council buildings. The Council was ahead of other authorities in Devon and had recently won the Local Government Chronicle Environment award for the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme, demonstrating national recognition.

The Chair commented, that with only a team of two staff in Energy Management, they had still managed to achieve considerable savings for the Council.

In response to Members’ questions, the Deputy Chief Executive stated that if the Energy Team be given more resources then greater efficiency savings could be made.

Members discussed the savings made to date and acknowledged that it would be cost effective for the Council to increase staff numbers within the Energy Management team.

Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee noted the report on the progress made to date, the delivery of all projects included in year two of the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Programme and feasibility work underway for 2017/18.

Onto the actual detail outlined in the report, which provides details of the last project to be completed at the Livestock Centre, further feasibility work planned for 2017/18 and Exeter’s current position regarding consumption and emissions.

Livestock Centre Solar PV 

The 1.5MW array installed in 2015 is thought to be the largest roof top array in the South West and is a significant addition to the Council’s solar estate. The PV array provides a long term income stream, helping to secure a sustainable future for the Livestock Centre. In addition, the solar array involved substantial electrical works and included a separate High Voltage supply to the building. The separate supply completed in May provides the Council with the opportunity to supply electricity to all leaseholders within the building, via a Power Purchase Agreement. The benefits of this include the sale of discounted renewable energy to leaseholders, allowing for greater usage of energy generated on site and providing the Council with an additional income stream.

Year Three 2017/18 – Programme and Feasibility 

The huge importance of the Solar PV projects in year two, and demand on what is a team of two, has inevitably delayed feasibility work. Nonetheless, initial business cases for work planned for year three of the programme are currently being prepared and below is a summary of potential projects identified for 2017/18:

Large Solar PV 

An opportunity to develop a 3.5 MW ground mounted PV array will take the authority closer to achieving Energy Neutrality. Previously a formal grid connection offer could not be authorised by WPD, having announced the grid was overloaded and reinforcement work predicted to take 3 to 6 years. However, a further application to connect has recently been submitted after alternative works by WPD to remove the issue were announced. This is set to be completed 2018/19 and current correspondence from WPD indicates a connection requirement of a maximum 3059kW export will be supplied. Once a formal offer is received a business case can be developed.

Battery Storage 

Battery storage will allow the Council to take control of solar energy use, providing many benefits, including reducing reliance on the grid at peak times and storage for use when needed outside of sunlight hours. Power generated by existing PV can be optimised where excess energy is exported. For example at Mary Arches and John Lewis Car Park, the excess energy could be stored to power lighting at night, providing a further energy bill saving. New savings can also be achieved where energy is needed predominantly outside of sunlight hours (such as for communal lighting), using batteries to store renewable energy generated in the day. In addition, the Livestock Centre array has the potential to supply direct to the grid at times of high demand, as well as utilising stored energy for its own use.

Battery storage is a fast developing technology and options available are being continuously investigated to ensure a viable smart solution is found.

Leisure Centres 

Solar PV remains a feasible opportunity for three of our existing Leisure Centres, reducing operational costs and carbon emissions. This is supported by a recent Energy Survey of the Leisure Centres, and will be further investigated following a building condition survey which will identify centres where new roofs are required.

An outline business case for this work will be prepared as soon as the information is available.

LED Replacement Lighting 

LED has the potential to make for a robust business case where electricity use is high, reducing consumption and carbon, maintenance costs and providing improved lighting. Further sites currently identified include car parks at the Guildhall and Princesshay 2 & 3. Work will be actioned once a full condition survey of the car parks is complete.

Energy Monitoring – SMART Controls 

Improved and new methods of energy and data monitoring will control energy usage through advanced scheduling and better control, optimising management of corporate buildings and in return lower energy bills. In addition monitoring is key to identifying where savings can be made and ensuring consumption information is made available so to feedback and work with the responsible building/service managers.

Advances in technology and communications are providing a more away from traditional Building Management Systems using smart controls that will better, engage building manager, reduce consumption and minimise costs.

Evaluation of opportunities and systems available, and the role of building managers is currently being investigated.

Energy Consumption and Emissions 

Greenhouse gas emission reporting (previously a DECC requirement) involving calculating emissions and energy consumption for all Council operations, is a valuable measurement tool which we use to benchmark. The Energy Officer was unable to carry out this exercise in 2014/15, due to the demands of the Renewables Programme, however the exercise is now complete for both years 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The new data confirms overall CO2 emissions have fallen by 29% (since 2009) and overall consumption has declined. Yet there is a very small increase of 1.37% in carbon emissions in 2015/16 brought about by greater consumption in a number of services. Exact reasons are complex, and could include new energy hungry equipment, longer operational hours, inaccuracies of previous readings, or poor building management.

A presentation will be made at Committee to provide further details of the emissions report, the need for sound energy management across our estate, and the benefits delivered by energy saving schemes in operation..

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Peter Cleasby: Small but significant: Exeter City Council’s energy measures [A Green in Exeter Blog, 24 October 2016]



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