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<< Back to: Member News: ICLEI e-News | issue 8, June - July 2007

Woking a model for energy decentralization

May 03, 2007

Woking (U.K.) has developed a radical model for meeting is own energy needs through the decentralization of their energy sources.

Officials in Woking took the radical step of creating an entirely new network of private wires and private pipes. The system links 18 mini-power stations, some running on natural gas and hydrogen, others on renewable energy like solar power. Locally generated heat from some of these stations then is piped to nearby homes and offices, saving on heating bills. In some cases, the process is used for refrigeration and air conditioning, creating further savings.

The result is a 92 percent reduction of the carbon footprint for public buildings and a few businesses, and the highest concentration of solar power in all of Britain.

Private pipes and wires in Woking cover about five percent of the town’s residents and businesses, and the system still reconnects to the grid for backup power when needed. It can even sell surplus to the local distributor, a unit of Électricité de France.

Among the projects under construction by the Woking council is a modernistic glass and steel canopy next to the train station that will protect arriving and departing passengers from rain and sun. The council is covering the roof with 35,000 solar cells, which are expected to provide power equal to the needs of 84 homes for a year.

Fossil-fuel based power are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Green power from renewable energy sources emit no or low greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Green power can include electricity generated exclusively from renewable resources including wind, hydro-electric or solar power – or electricity produced from a combination of fossil and renewable resources. For more information on the generation and use of green power at the local level, please visit www.iclei.org/ccp.

Woking is one of 164 local governments in Europe who are currently Members of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. For more information on ICLEI and its activities in Europe, please visit www.iclei.org/europe.

Source: Local energy generation system in England draws admirers – and skeptics”, International Herald Tribune, 20 April 2007.