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Guildford Renewable Energy Mapping Study

Guildford Borough Council commissioned a detailed icon renewable energy mapping study [8.7MB]   and the final report was finalised in February 2015. The study looked at where different renewable energy technologies are most suitable within the borough. Renewable energy technologies provide "clean energy". By avoiding the use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal to generate electricity or heat they avoid the emission of carbon to the atmosphere. Renewable energy technologies are either carbon free or low carbon. Government policy in the UK is designed to reduce carbon emissions and de-carbonise the electricity supply, partly to reduce our climate change impacts, but also for other reasons. It is better to use energy that is generated without resorting to fuel imports, which often come from unstable parts of the world, so "security of supply" is an important benefit. It is also better to use locally generated electricity than to rely on large energy infrastructure to transport it across the country. There are also local community benefits through the retention of more economic value locally. This Guildford Borough Council report supports and builds on the Government's own high level mapping studies.

Renewables mapping

This report provides part of the evidence base for the Local Plan, and can also be used by developers to determine the most suitable renewable technologies for specific locations, or alternatively the most suitable locations for specific technologies. It includes solar PV, solar thermal, wind, hydro and heat pumps and district heating. It also considers the potential constraints to each technology that are specific to Guildford.

Solar PV is the generation of electricity from solar panels. More electricity can be obtained from panels that are aligned in a Southerly or South Westerly  direction and the sunnier the area the better. It is best if the panels are not shaded. Typically solar PV on domestic properties feed in to each property's own electricity supply, but on a larger scale are likely to require a connection to the electricity grid. The report takes account of where those connections are most easy to achieve.

Solar thermal is the generation of heat from solar panels, usually to provide hot water. Even on cold days heat is absorbed by the system and this can reduce heating bills. Just like solar PV, it is important that the panels are aligned to the sun in the most effective way. Generally speaking, Guildford has favourable conditions for both solar PV and solar thermal energy.

Wind turbines can provide electricity through the movement of their blades by the wind. Wind turbines have the benefit of being able to be installed on a very small footprint which means that when they are removed at a later date they leave virtually no legacy. They generally need moderate and consistent wind speeds to be most effective. The mapping exercise looks at the suitability of wind conditions for wind power in Guildford.

Hydro power is the harvesting of energy from water flow. Guildford Borough Council already does this at Millbrook, and this mapping exercise looks at where the most suitable locations for further hydro power are.

Heat pumps are a means of providing heat from the ambient air, water or ground. They are a bit like a fridge but work the other way around by extracting the heat and discharging the excess cold. Heat pumps are especially suitable at properties that are not on the gas network. Where ground or water source heat is available, then this can be particularly beneficial. The efficiency of heat pumps is improving over time, and usually part of their cost can be recouped through the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive, a payment per kW of heat generated. The mapping exercise looks at where heat pumps are most likely to be a cost effective means of proving low carbon energy.

District heating is the provision of heat to more than one dwelling from a central heat source. It is best suited to areas of high density living and especially in mixed use developments that spread the demand for heat during the day. Where there is a source of excess heat, for example, from a manufacturing plant, they are especially effective. District heating typically delivers carbon savings through the efficiency of scale, but where is can be combined with a low carbon heat source, it can provide even more carbon savings. The report identifies where heat is currently generated in the borough, and consequently where district heating is likely to be most suitable.

Not all locations are suitable for renewable technologies and this report looks at the potential constraints.

This report is a tool to facilitate the efficient development of low carbon power and heat in Guildford, both as a tool for planners and developers, and as an information source to others who are looking to install low carbon technologies.