Energy and sustainability

Open Newtown is looking for ways that we can save carbon and generate energy from our green spaces and town.  

The imperative for this work comes from the global need to reduce carbon emissions to avoid our children having to survive in an inhospitable climate. Newtown should be playing its part. 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. 

Benefits / Impact 

If we manage our green spaces better, we can reduce climate change by reducing carbon emissions, but also increase biodiversity and create new, valuable bi-products, such as clean energy and compost.

The benefits of retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient are many. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, it also reduces heating bills, improves air quality, stimulates the local economy by providing high quality green jobs and improves health by making our homes drier and warmer.  

  

Further information

Our main area of enquiry is to look at what we do with the grass that is cut from our 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 within the grass. This is unviable on the scale of our own green waste, but by working with other people that have the same problems to solve, including the farming community, we can hopefully make a business case for a biomass processing hub near to Newtown. This will make best use of the energy and carbon contained in local biomass. We are 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 little is being done to address this. We are looking into options to change this by:

  • ensuring that there is clear, expert advice for people to access
  • finding ways to help people finance their home retrofit projects
  • setting up a housing co-operative to practice what it preaches
  • making some existing local properties more energy efficient to then rent as affordable housing. 

In addition, to promote renewable energy technologies, we are looking into the opportunities to showcase alternative low carbon solutions that could be replicated across the town, such as solar PV lighting and battery systems. 

One focus is on the green spaces themselves. Land has a significant part to play in the management of carbon. As soil stores a large quantity of carbon, caring for it and managing what grows on it are important.

For more information, please contact Jeremy Thorp (Project Coordinator) about this project. Please complete our Feedback form and select ‘Project: Open energy’ from the drop down menu.

Working in partnership 

We are working in partnership with a variety of organisations including Share Energy, Cwm Harry Land Trust Ltd and Newtown High School.

What’s happened so far

We have:

  • specified and commissioned a feasibility study into managing organic waste in the Newtown area
  • run two housing energy efficiency workshops
  • run two public talks at Newtown High School before being postponed due to COVID-19
  • developed a model for boosting housing retrofit in the town.  

Costs & Funding 

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. 

Addressing concerns  

Open Energy is about climate change, air quality, fuel poverty and local resilience. The biggest threat to our childrens future is climate change, so reducing carbon emissions and getting less of our energy from fossil fuels are urgent priorities. Doing this solves other problems too; it also makes our air cleaner, reduces our heating bills and keeps money in the local economy.   

Alignment to national, county and local strategies 

This project fits well with national strategy. One of the reactions to the COVID-19 crisis and the need to rebuild the economy is to massively scale up housing retrofit. 

 

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