Part of our goal at Exeter City Futures is to make the Exeter Region Energy Independent by 2025. But what does energy independence actually mean?
To Exeter City Futures being energy independent does not mean we want to disconnect the region from the national grid. It means locally we are making enough green energy to supply all of the demand within the region and are not wasting energy through transporting it from other destinations. If we make more than we need then we should be able to provide it to other regions who have higher demand.
Energy independence is unlikely to be achieved by adopting one solution. It is expected to require implementation of a range of solutions based around two key areas – increasing renewable generation and decreasing consumption.
There are many ways in which the Exeter Region can capture energy and generate power from its own renewable resources. These include obvious steps such as wider adoption of solar power on domestic, commercial and industrial buildings, and more challenging ones such as investment in new technologies for capturing tidal, wave and geothermal energy.
Although many barriers still exist to the wider adoption of localised renewable energy generation, the falling cost of technologies like solar and more discrete solutions like Tesla’s solar roof are making the solutions more desirable to all sectors in the Exeter region. Sustainable developments like St Margaret’s are proving these solutions are viable, even in older buildings.
In addition to increasing the amount of energy they generate, it’s equally as important for our buildings to be as energy efficient as possible. Almost 40% of the Exeter region’s domestic building stock was built before 1945, and less than 10% has been built since 2000. This means the majority of our housing does not meet modern efficiency standards.
Retrofitting the city’s older building stock to meet modern standards is a significant challenge, but one that is not impossible to overcome.
A wide range of actions can be taken to keep the energy consumption of our buildings to a minimum, from tried and tested methods of insulating them to embracing new standards such as Passivhaus on all new builds.
Technologies that incentivise behavioural change will also have a large impact on reducing our overall consumption, from the way we use our appliances to how energy efficiently we drive. Devices like Lightfoot, which gamify energy efficient driving and is part of our accelerator, are showing this change is possible.
Closing the gap
No matter the size of the impact from the solutions adopted it’s important that everything possible is done to increase generation and decrease consumption – to reduce the gap between the energy we are able to generate, and the energy we use.
Annually the Exeter Region uses 10TWh of energy. Just 1% of that is currently generated from renewable sources.
When the right balance is achieved, energy independence benefits everyone. Citizens, businesses, and civic buildings will enjoy lower energy bills while the energy we do use will be produced more cleanly creating a healthier city for everyone.
Energy Independence 2025
Our upcoming energy report outlines a roadmap for the Exeter Region to become energy independent by 2025. Key measures are identified that must be taken to achieve this goal, as well as barriers to success.
The Energy Report has been created by City Science, and commissioned by Exeter City Futures to support our goal of making Exeter Energy Independent and Congestion Free by 2025. It will be followed by a Transport Report and an Economic Report.
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