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Why aren’t we heating our homes with wind power?

…. or more specifically, with heat pumps powered by community wind power.

That’s the question that Possible have asked, and they have found that it is not only feasible but it has the potential to cut home heating bills as well as emissions.

It’s well accepted that the decarbonisation of home heating needs to accelerate considerably and heat pumps are considered the ideal route to phasing out gas boilers. However the current rates of installation are around one-ninth of the 600,000 a year that the Government has set as a target for 2028.

The campaign group commissioned energy experts Regen to explore a home heating system that could replace gas boilers and was powered by locally produced renewable energy.

Regen identified a number of barriers to the take up of heat pump which include a lack of information for people and communities on the options available, overly restrictive planning conditions, a lack of support to get community heat projects going, the frequently higher upfront costs of these systems, and difficulties in finding installers with the expertise to undertake the work.

Looking at how heat pump adoption could be accelerated at a community level, Regen explored how well wind power availability matched up with heat demand, threw some solar and batteries into the mix, and considered how this could work.

Logically, it was found that wind power would be an ideal match for heat pumps because it’s windier in the colder months. Regen found that in the ‘typical community’ they were modelling on, local wind power could directly power two-thirds of the energy needed to run heat pumps. If solar and storage are added in, the savings would be up to nearly a third off energy bills.

Furthermore 3,700 of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, with greatest risk of households there living in fuel poverty, are within 1km of an area with good onshore wind resources. 

Some barriers remain however and this is why Possible are now asking the public to emails their MPs and ask for action. Specifically, they are saying that the government needs to:

  • Reform the electricity market so that bill payers can benefit from the lower costs of renewable energy.
  • Remove the remaining planning barriers for new onshore wind, particularly for community projects.
  • Provide access to grant funding and low-cost finance for community energy and heat projects.
  • Expand the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to allow it to also support community heat projects.

Regen’s report can be downloaded here.

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