Low carbon and renewable energy network in Kirkby Stephen explored

25th July 2021

The United Nations has recently stated that Climate Change is the biggest threat that modern humans have ever faced.

At eQuality Homes we are focused on developing more affordable and sustainable communities, and so are delighted to have secured funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) to undertake a feasibility study on the opportunities to develop a low carbon and renewable energy network in Kirkby Stephen. The Rural Community Energy Fund is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and is administered by the Local Energy, North West Hub.

The feasibility study will include a technical and commercial review of the various options for a low carbon energy network at the eQuality Homes housing development site off Nateby Road, with the possibility of expanding the network more widely in Kirkby Stephen if there is local demand for it. The study will investigate novel opportunities to use heat pumps and solar panels to generate low carbon heat and electricity at a community level, in an affordable manner. It will also seek to better understand the level of interest of homeowners within Kirkby Stephen to utilise low carbon energy, and or electric vehicle charging points, were they more widely available.

New gas boilers will no longer be allowed in new build properties from 2025. We would like to find a viable alternative for all homes much sooner as heating accounts for around a third of all carbon emissions in the UK.

Derek Mitchell, a director of eQuality homes said; “The grant is really important to us as it allows us to investigate options to find cost-effective low carbon and renewable energy alternatives to gas, which remains the cheapest and easiest option in most cases. The grant also allows us to engage with the local community to establish the level of interest locally for people to embrace low carbon energy options.”

Kate Gilmartin, senior project officer at Local Energy, North West Hub, said “Communities and community level action must be at the heart of the changes we need to make to decarbonise our society and ensure our climate does not exceed the 1.5 degree C warming that will endanger our children’s world. Transitional projects like this are really important to help address the challenges faced to show that there are viable alternatives. Local energy projects also help to retain money in the local economy, as currently around £2,000 a year per household leaves our local economies on energy spend.”