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Using Available Energy, instead of Expensive Energy

Stoke-on-Trent submitted their idea, “Make Stoke-on-Trent Self-Sufficient in Energy Use” to Creative Councils with a plan to take back local control of its energy infrastructures, which currently run through the national system. With a strong ceramics industry employing 20,000 people that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to rising and unpredictable changes in oil prices, there is a serious need for consistent, predictable energy – something that the national system can’t always supply.

The issue with a national approach, alongside fluctuating prices is, as Jane Forshaw, Head of Environmental Services for the council, points out, that “They have never had to look at the resources around them- and they should.” Stoke-on-Trent amasses 180,000 tonnes of waste every year (including 30,000 tonnes of grass clippings alone) most of which is currently composted. But, with their Creative Councils idea, they are looking to innovate this waste to solve a looming problem. Jane explains, “We think about these resources differently – instead of creating compost, why not create gas instead?”

And so, Stoke-on-Trent wants to use their waste to produce biogas through the process of anaroebic digestion (not a biogas geek?  Read an explanation of the process here) which the ceramic factories could then buy at a fixed rate, thus avoiding the pitfalls of fluctuating national oil prices. If this proves successful, they are looking to develop an entire local energy system which will help fulfill their low-carbon pledge to supply half of people’s power use (the average Stoke-on-Trent resident uses about 600 watts per year) through local resources.

To help with this pledge, Stoke-on-Trent is also looking to make the most of its already available resources – planning to redirect excess energy to new development areas, put Solar PV on over 5,000 council homes to work towards bringing a local, sustainable and affordable energy source to its inhabitants.

Unlike a lot of the Ideas of the Week we have featured so far, who typically need people like web developers, pilot areas, etc… this idea is in need of some slightly bigger guns. Stoke-on-Trent is looking for:

  • An experienced negotiator to help them talk to government fuel price and infrastructure regulators about giving fair local control back to energy development
  • Someone to help them develop a plan for raising share capital (through things like community or local business involvement)
  • Someone able to help navigate the whole money issue – to figure out the best price and approach for creating this type of local energy infrastructure, as well as how to tackle contracts and partnerships with big businesses

So, if you happen to be a whizz in one of the areas just mentioned, know someone who is, or if you have ideas on how to tackle some of these issues, please get in touch by commenting or bidding on their idea here.

This item was originally posted on the Simpl Ideas Marketplace.