Open Newtown is looking for ways that we can save carbon and generate energy from our green spaces in town and also from the wider town.
The imperative for this work comes from the global need to reduce our carbon emissions to avoid our children having to survive in an inhospitable climate, and that Newtown should be playing our part in this. We are looking at a variety of solutions, including better ways of dealing with biomass and organic waste, dealing with our inefficient housing, and installing more renewable generation.
If we manage our green spaces better, we can reduce climate change by reducing carbon emissions, but also increase biodiversity and create new valuable by-products such as clean energy and compost.
The benefit of retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient are many. In addition to the benefit of reducing carbon emissions, it also reduces heating bills, improves air quality, stimulates the local economy but providing high quality green jobs, and improves health by making our homes drier and warmer.
Our main area of enquiry is to look at what we do with the grass that is cut from the green spaces. Currently this is just left to break down naturally, either left as cut grass on the field, or harvested and taken elsewhere to break down, but no energy is extracted from it. We are investigating how we can capture some of the energy and carbon contained in the grass. This is not viable just on the scale of our own green waste, but if we worked with other people that have the same problems to solve, including the farming community, then hopefully we can make a business case for a biomass processing hub near to Newtown that can make best use of the energy and carbon contained in local biomass. We are presently conducting a feasibility study into this idea.
One of the other big sources of carbon emissions in the town is housing energy use. Our UK houses are notoriously badly insulated and there is little going on the address this in spite of lots of talk. We are looking into options for helping to change this, by making sure there is clear expert advice that people can access, finding ways to help people finance their home retrofit projects, and setting up a housing cooperative to practice what it preaches and makes some existing local properties more energy efficient to then rent as affordable housing.
In addition we want to promote renewable energy technologies in the town, so are looking into the opportunities for showcasing alternative low carbon solutions that could be replicated across the town such as solar PV lighting and battery systems.
If you would like contact Jeremy Thorp (Project Coordinator) about this project please complete our Feedback form and select ‘Project: Open energy’ from the drop down menu.
One focus is on the green spaces themselves. Land has a significant part to play in the management of carbon, soil itself stores a large quantity of carbon, so caring for the soil is important as well as managing what grows on the soil.
We have: specified and commissioned a feasibility study into managing organic waste in the Newtown area, run two housing energy efficiency workshops, ran two public talks at the High School before being postponed due to Covid-19 and have developed a model for boosting housing retrofit in the town.
We have obtained funding from the Arwain Rural Development Plan for Wales (RDP) as part of the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. This funding allows us to investigate feasibility plans for a variety of energy and carbon saving plans for the town.
Open Energy is about climate change, air quality, fuel poverty and local resilience. The biggest threat to our children’s future is climate change, so reducing carbon emissions and getting less of our energy from fossil fuels is an urgent priority. But doing this solves other problems too, it also makes our air cleaner, reduces our heating bills and keeps money in the local economy.
This work fits well with National strategy, one of the reactions to the Covid-19 crisis and the need to rebuild the economy is that one way of doing this is to massively scale up housing retrofit.
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