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Future Cities Forum energy and sustainability series 2021 speakers

Energy Centre at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London (Vital Energi for Berkeley Homes)

At the start of our energy and sustainability 2021 series of discussions we are profiling some of our speakers who will lead our debates.

Patrick Allcorn, Leader of Local Energy at the BEIS will be back this month to discuss the importance of establishing green heating networks in cities. Patrick described at our November 2020 forum how district heat networks are part of the solution for big urban centres where there is high heat use. He said:

'Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK, bigger than transport use. The heat challenge is the biggest challenge we have. Nottingham has had a district heat network for 40 years - it is not new technology but it matters where the source of heat comes from, for example, taking people off oil and replacing it with something else to provide a significant carbon saving. A gas unit is not necessarily producing high carbon savings, so you have to think about the transition to hydrogen in the future for this. The big win is in low emission fuels.

'There is also a big win around mass take up, not so much around individual choices. So public sector swimming pools and hospitals can drive the economies of those heat networks. It is much harder to reach lower demand heat communities, so it has been necessary for the public sector to lead that debate.

'There is an interesting opportunity for local authorities around commercial models - on investment and returns - and what they can achieve with that. Can they de-carbonise other buildings? We are supporting 180 local authorities to explore the development of this. They should look at their building stock on an area wide basis'.

Mike Cooke, Managing Director of Vital Energi's North/Midlands and Scotland Managing Team will speak about some of the latest projects for heat networks in the UK. Mike has worked for Vital Energi for over seven years and has been responsible for implementation of complex renewable and low carbon technology solutions specialising in district energy. This followed his work at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services and Haden Young.

Vital Energy is working in partnership with domestic energy supply companies to help reduce emissions from private housing, offering a combination of solar array technology, heat pumps and EV charging installation.

On a district-wide basis Mike said Vital Energi has been working with land-owner and developer Peel Group. Plans for an energy centre in Liverpool with renewable technologies to help provide low carbon heat and hot water to residents and businesses have been approved by Liverpool City Council this month. The Peel NRE facility between Great Howard Street and Sherwood Street is expected to save around 4,200 tonnes of carbon per year and provide heat for up to 9,000 homes.

The company will be also delivering a new 4MW solar PV installation for Swansea Bay University Health Board at Brynwhilach in a partnership which will reduce the Health Board's carbon emissions by over 20,000 tonnes. In addition to the carbon reduction the project will save £439,000 per annum in electricity costs.

Mike is joined by Warrington District Council's Chief Executive, Professor Steven Broomhead and Newcastle City Council's Director of City Futures, Tom Warburton.

Warrington has been taking both the developer route and investment route in its green energy strategy. It has bought two solar farms, in York and in Hull, to sell electricity to the grid, after it has provided power for all council buildings. A contractor built out the solar farms, with the council only taking ownership once they had been completed and commissioned.

Last year Warrington arranged an investment bond of approximately £60 million to invest in a solar farm at Wroughton near Swindon. It did this jointly with Thurrock and Newham councils with the intention of getting a financial return from investment in renewable energy. The council remains committed to being energy self-sufficient in its own operations by 2030., Measures to save money and cut emissions have included converting 18,000 street lights to LED. Between 2011 and 2018 this switch has saved £550,000 in energy costs.

Tom Warburton will be speaking about the city of Newcastle's highly successful zero carbon action plan and the procurement process involving French multi-national electric utility company Engie. Newcastle he says has the biggest problems - about two thirds - in terms of emissions from the built environment and residential and only a third from transport. Tom describes the deal to provide a district energy network as 'complicated' but very worthwhile. Four thousand high quality jobs he says will be created in the next few years in the green energy sector for the city while the number of Passivhaus projects will also progress along with e-scooter trials for cleaner air in the city.

LDA Design's Director Alister Kratt will also be part of the discussion. Alister specialises in large, multi-disciplinary projects and development in sensitive contexts. He leads LDA Design's energy and infrastructure teams with expertise in nuclear, wave and tidal, energy-from-waste and port sectors.

Alister is a landscape architect and master planner with significant experience in project leadership, He sits on the HS2 Design Review Panel and the Design Commission for Wales (DCfW). He is an adviser on nationally significant infrastructure and development projects including Sizewell C nuclear power station, the redevelopment of HS2's Euston Station, major settlement expansion in Northamptonshire and he is also advising on the future growth of Oxford.


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