Decentralised energy is the opposite of our present, massively wasteful energy system which was designed when we hadn't even heard of climate change and features 80% waste, mostly into the air, by the time energy reaches homes from large, remote power stations. It’s smart to think that we should generate electricity, and capture the 'waste' heat at the same time! Combined Heat and Power (CHP) schemes in EfficienCity, do this.
CHP is efficient (up to 95% in Denmark), decentralised, usually sited in the towns and cities right where the electricity and heat will be used. Efficiencies of CHP plus efficiencies in the home through insulation and higher minimum efficiency standards for appliances eliminates profligate waste.
CHP runs on several fuel types including fossil fuels like natural gas and greener fuels like biomass from expanded forestry and biogas from farm waste/food waste. Build a CHP plant to burn one fuel and switch to greener fuels as and when available - great for the transition to sustainability!
EfficienCity’s local renewable energy sources (wind, sunlight, tides, waves, rivers, underground springs, the earth itself..) are abundant. Innovative technologies are fast developing. Government estimates that UK wind, wave and tidal resources could meet 40 per cent of our energy needs by 2020. It needs a proper energy strategy, investment on the right scale and political leadership to make it happen everywhere.
Decentralised energy is completely scalable and flexible, from a tiny CHP plant in a supermarket or an enormous industrial plant like Immingham, a single wind turbine like the one at Manchester City's stadium or a massive wind farm like the forthcoming London Array. Systems can be installed much faster than huge power plants and tailored to fit local needs. EfficienCity's local, diverse energy sources don’t rely on imports. Hundreds of small energy generators instead of a few major ones means far lower risk of a large system failure. Decentralised energy approaches are very cost-effective – govt figures say efficiency measures alone can save consumers £12 billion a year, paying for themselves.
Energy from decentralised systems can currently be more expensive per kilowatt hour than eg coal but because only 37 per cent of the average British electricity bill is for the electricity (the rest goes to propping up the wasteful infrastructure) the total cost can be less.
Non-dependence on the fossil fuel market, means being protected from massive price increases of gas and oil that we’ve seen of late (plus any future price rises, lack of availability). With climate change already happening best science says we need to avoid fossil fuels.