Renewable energy in Dorset
Links to reports on the renewable energy potential in Dorset and information about existing installations.
Since then the European Renewable Energy Directive has been agreed by all 27 member states and includes a binding target to supply 20% of Europe's total primary energy from renewable sources by 2020. The UK currently (2009) supplies two per cent of primary energy from renewables and has agreed to increase this to 15% by 2020. This will be achieved by large percentage contribution from offshore wind energy plus a wide range of other measures including introduction of feed-in tariffs to support micro generation.
A report called Revision 2010 produced for the Government Office South West in 2005 provided draft targets for renewable electricity generation for each of the seven south west counties. This suggested that Dorset might be able to achieve 64-84 MW (mega-watts) of generating capacity by 2010, making up 8.4 to 9.9% of Dorset's electricity demand.
The Dorset target is comparable to that for other counties in the south west, and has regard to Dorset's resources, and landscape constraints. It is important to note that this target range is not technology specific - no targets have been set for individual technologies. In addition, as yet these targets have not been adopted or endorsed in the regional spatial strategy.
The results of the assessment suggest that the majority of the renewable capacity target for 2010, both in Dorset and for the region is likely to come from on-shore wind, biomass combined heat and power (CHP), energy from landfill gas and energy from waste using advanced thermal treatment.
The majority of the landfill gas capacity is already in place with approximately 12 MW installed made up from 8.3 MW of landfill gas (White's Pit and Beacon Hill), and 3MW of anaerobic digestion from sewage sludge at Wessex Water sewage treatment sites. There are currently no large wind turbines or CHP plants in Dorset but a number of small-scale projects are coming on stream. A farm based anaerobic digestion plant fed with maize, grass silage and slurry was commissioned in 2008. The plant based near Blandford Forum has an electrical generation capacity of 340 kilowatts (kW).
In spite of a number of smaller schemes, the renewable electricity installed capacity in Dorset has only increased by 500kW since 2007. Dorset would need approximately 40 times the total existing renewable energy capacity to be installed by 2020 in order to play an equal part in delivering the UK's international legally binding share of the European renewable energy targets.
A report from Regen SW - The road to 2020 (opens in a new window) (September 2008), illustrates the scale of the challenge for the south west and also the potential job creation opportunities.
For more information see the following links:
Offshore renewable technology projects will not count towards individual county targets, but rather will go towards meeting the regional target. There is potential to harness the power from the tidal stream off Portland Bill. The great advantage is that this energy resource is very close to a population centre and therefore will be potentially more economical than other more remote sites around the UK. Nevertheless, this technology is still in its infancy and is unlikely to make a significant contribution to our energy needs until 2015-2020.
In January 2010 the Crown Estate issued licences to develop nine offshore wind farm zones which when completed in 2018 would supply 25% of the UK's electricity needs. One of the licensed sites, West of Isle of Wight, could contain up to 180 wind turbines sited at an average distance of 12 miles off the Dorset Coast. The projected output would be 900MW and the power would come ashore by underground cable to Chickerell electricity sub station, near Weymouth.
More information on tidal stream opportunities can be found on the Dorset Coast Forum topic paper (pdf, 359kb) (opens in a new window) . Royal Haskoning has completed an Offshore Renewable Energy Capacity Study for the Dorset Coast in April 2010. The aim of this study was to deliver GIS layers indicating appropriate and inappropriate areas for offshore renewable energy developments, and will be another evidence source for policy decision making. The report can be downloaded at: Dorset Offshore Renewable Capacity Study (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window)
Dorset's first wood chip boiler (150 kilowatts) was installed at Guys Marsh prison near Shaftsbury in 2007. A 300 kW woodchip boiler was installed at St. Osmunds School Dorchester in 2009. Several others are planned for schools, leisure centres and glasshouses across the region. On a smaller scale there is tremendous potential for biomass in the form of logs, wood pellets to play a significant role in heating domestic dwellings. Dorset Woodfuel Supply and Heat Demand Study (2009) (opens in a new window) commissioned by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership (AONB) indicated that only approximately 6,000 tonnes of wood fuel is harvested from Dorset's woodlands per year. The potential harvest from sustainable coppicing and good management would be up to 100,000 tonnes per year, at the same time increasing biodiversity through thinning unmanaged woodland. Approximately 30% of Dorset's housing stock is not connected with mains gas. West Dorset is particularly poorly served by the gas network with 80% of the houses (over 6,000 properties) relying on more expensive heating fuels. Biomass could be an affordable solution for these hard to heat houses.
Dorset County Council received funding from April 2006 - March 2009 to help facilitate the installation of micro renewable projects on 56 buildings managed by the county council, the six district councils and a number of village halls. In total this has provided a further 800 kW of renewable energy capacity.
There is also good potential for installation of micro renewable technologies in domestic situations. In particular, Dorset has an excellent solar resource, so properties with roofs that face south should consider solar thermal systems (which produce hot water) or solar photovoltaic panels (which produce electricity). The former also has potential within the tourism sector, which has a requirement for high levels of hot water demand in summer. Examples include camp and caravan sites with shower blocks, hotels, guesthouses and swimming pools.
Heat pumps (air source, ground source and water source) have good potential for the new build sector, which is expected to require 21,000 new homes in Dorset by 2010. As a coastal area, Dorset is particularly windy and there is potential to harness the wind for domestic use and exporting to the national grid. There are several examples of all these technologies in Dorset. The Government intends to introduce Feed-in Tariffs (a premium price for renewable electricity from small generators) from April 2010 and a similar Renewable Heat Incentive from April 2011 to support solar water heating, biomass boilers and heat pumps. These new initiatives are designed to reduce payback periods and give installers more confidence through a long term stable market.
The headquarters of the British Hydropower Association is based in Wimborne and across Dorset there are many old mill sites with the potential to install modern hydro generation equipment. The Stour Vale Hydro Group have conducted 13 feasibility studies on ex mill sites and the first five are now at a stage where detailed design work is being carried out and license regulations being dealt with. Several projects are expected to be commissioned in 2009-10.
Dorset Energy Group Renewable energy information sheets are available for free download.