Reducing Plastic Waste

At the WREN AGM on 25th September 2018, Emily Pollitt gave a presentation on plastics and plastic waste, highlighting the issues of plastic waste (as also publicised in the BBC's "Blue Planet 2"), and also the advantages of plastic as a material and the complexities of reducing plastic usage and waste. The benefits of plastic - persistence, strength, longevity, flexibility and low cost - are also its disadvantages when the plastic has been used and is disposed of.

Here is Emily's presentation.


Sunshine Tariff Final Reports

Energy generation, use and supply are going through a period of change. There has been a rapid increase in deployment of distributed and variable generation since the introduction of the Feed in Tariff. Therefore, new forms of flexibility are required to keep the power system stable in this new environment.

Traditionally, flexibility has been provided by turning power plants up or down to match demand. But new communication and big data technologies combined with smart meters are enabling smarter approaches to balancing supply and demand.

One form of flexibility is demand side response (DSR), which is when a consumer adjusts the amount of electricity they use at particular times in response to either a control or price signal. There have been a number of trials in the UK looking at the potential of DSR in supporting system balancing, a handful of which have looked at domestic DSR.

The Sunshine Tariff trial focused on the role of domestic DSR in overcoming network constraints.

The trial sought to develop and test the feasibility of an ‘offset connection agreement’, which would enable generation customers to connect to the grid on the basis that they could change the pattern of local demand on the network to offset the power generated. It would be based on the timed alternative connection agreement but would give the developer the opportunity to shift local demand to the time of peak output from their generation.

The incentive for customers to shift their demand to the middle of the day was provided by a time of use tariff – the Sunshine Tariff – which provided cheap electricity between 10:00-16:00 from April to September.

Several reports have been published. Click to download. 


From local to global value: the transformational nature of community energy

AUTHOR: Iain Soutar, University of Exeter
Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography, November 2015

The UK energy system has in the past been characterised by the ownership and control of large-scale supply technologies by corporate entities. It has become apparent however that such structures are ill suited to addressing contemporary energy challenges of decarbonisation, energy security and affordability. Moreover, their resistance to change means that the current system is fundamentally inconsistent with the need for energy system change.

Taking a mixed-methods approach, this thesis contends that community energy has the potential to have significant impacts at both local and national scales. Social, economic and environmental impacts of a specific community energy project are evidenced to illustrate the breadth and scale of potential impacts at the local level. Broader analysis of the community energy movement, and of ‘small-scale energy’ more generally is suggestive of the potential for such approaches to be transformative in terms of overcoming system inertia. In particular, the energy system is undergoing a process of democratisation, whereby power, wealth and value is gradually distributed among society. A key role for policymakers then is to consider the strategic importance of democratisation.

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Governing energy consumption at the local level: the potential of community energy initiatives to act as vehicles in energy demand management

AUTHOR: James Ross, University of Exeter
Dissertation towards the degree of Master of Science by advance study in Sustainable Development, August 2015

The UK has set an ambitious target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To achieve this target, shifts towards low carbon forms of energy will be required along addressing current growths in energy consumption. In an attempt to increase the knowledge surrounding effective methods to reduce energy demand, this dissertation aims to assess if community energy initiatives, in the UK, can act as vehicles in energy demand management. To answer this hypothesis, this dissertation’s research questions aimed to establish; how community energy initiatives can address energy demand? What challenges do they encounter? How can these be overcome? And where do the main opportunities lie for community energy initiatives to reduce energy demand?

The results of this project established the overarching challenges community energy initiatives encounter when addressing energy demand, while at the same time exploring the solutions to these challenges and gaining an insight as to where the opportunities lie. Finally it was concluded that community energy initiatives can act as effective vehicles in energy demand management when successfully addressing certain criteria which include; public engagement, financial sustainability and reducing reliance on government support.

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Why do individuals consume energy in a climate friendly way? The case of Wadebridge

AUTHORS: University of Exeter second year students
Degree program of Politics and International Relations (POC2023 Doing Politics Research), June 2015

All 3 reports focused on the question 'Why do individuals consume energy in a climate friendly way? The case of Wadebridge’. Primary research involved interviewing local residents; responses were then compared with the literature and recommendations made for WREN.

Download reports:  Report 1,  Report 2,  Report 3


To what extent does shopping locally increase a sense of community in Wadebridge, Cornwall?

AUTHOR: Jenifer Flynn
BA Hons Geography, Newcastle University, March 2015

In her research Jenifer explores the causal relationship between shopping locally and promoting a sense of community. In particular, she examines WREN’s symbolic importance in engendering a sense of community through, for example, initiating the WREN currency. Jenifer was awarded a First class degree for her research.

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Assessing the Potential Impacts of Peak Load Reduction Interventions via Domestic Electrical Load Disaggregation

AUTHOR: Sam Angwin
M.Sc. Energy and Sustainability (Energy, Environment & Buildings), Faculty of Engineering & the Environment, University of Southampton, September 2014

In response to challenges facing the UK electricity grid, notably the reduction in electricity capacity margins and variable generation costs, there is growing interest in demand response actions which may help to reduce peak electricity demand. This dissertation focuses on the potential of domestic interventions to reduce peak demand. An algorithm is used to disaggregate 1-minute resolution power readings and peak reduction interventions are modelled. The three interventions considered were to supply low-energy lighting, switch off cold appliances and prohibit electric shower use during peaks, upper bounds were found to be 15%, 7% and 0.4% of peak electricity respectively.

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Feasibility Study of the Camel Estuary for Tidal Energy Extraction

AUTHOR: Jamie Johnstone
MSc Marine Renewable Energy; Plymouth University Faculty of Science & Technology; September 2012

The primary aim was to assess the potential of the Camel Estuary for tidal energy extraction, and its ability to meet the energy demands of Wadebridge and the surrounding area. Theoretical power estimates were calculated for tidal stream and tidal range sites at twelve locations throughout the estuary, using water levels and velocities from model observation points. The Central site proved most productive, with annual electrical power output of 11,186MW/h (29% of energy demand for the Wadebridge area).

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A WREN member's account of choosing and installing a wind turbine.

AUTHOR: Grant McAlpine
MSc Renewable Energy: CAT, June 2012

Grant details the process for siting, choosing, installing and monitoring a GAIA 133 (11kW) wind turbine. He identifies the selection criteria and outlines the rationale for choosing the GIAI.

Incorporating early post-installation performance data, Grant offers a very useful, first hand account of the principal issues and challenges that were experienced'.

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A Community Approach to Tidal Power in Cornwall and South Devon

Author: Sophie Stevens
May 2012

Sophie has just graduated from Exeter University with a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Renewable Energy. Her dissertation 'A Community Approach to Tidal Power in Cornwall and South Devon' explores the potential for tidal energy exploitation and examines the possibilities for a community involvement approach in areas around Cornwall and South Devon. The WREN model and research is explored and assessed and Sophie concludes by highlighting the need for future investment to ensure that tidal energy income remains within the community.

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The WREN model: A template for community energy schemes in the future?

Author: Bertie Redhead
MSc Energy Policy and Sustainability: University of Exeter
September 2011

Bertie explores three principal issues: 1. WREN’s strengths and weaknesses; opportunities and threats. 2. Motivations of WREN’s principal stakeholders. 3. Required trade offs for securing a low carbon reality.

Bertie comes up with three key findings: Vision and competence; limited engagement and resources / Commercial return (private sector); local engagement (public) / Collaboration – based on trust and transparency – is key

Bertie concludes by noting “…while it is good that money is being made it is equally important how it is shared.”

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Photovoltaics in the home: Exploring the role of domestic PV in the future of UK Energy

Author: Dan Goodchild
MSc Sustainable Development: University of Exeter
September 2011

Dan asks three important questions: 1. Why do people install PV? 2. Can and do PV/smart meters raise energy awareness? 3. Does having PV change behaviour?

Dan comes up with three key findings: Raising energy awareness influences energy usage / The more people know the less they waste / Despite the Feed In Tariff high initial investment is a barrier

Dan concludes by recommending “…that policy should encourage adoption across wider social groups…”

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Smart Meters

In this 2010 paper Dr Tom Hargreaves (University of East Anglia) summarises the experiences of 15 UK householders trialling different types of smart meters.He explores, for example, the importance of their location, ease of set-up, use and interpretation as influencing household energy consumption.

He concludes by commenting that installing smart meters can have both positive and negative outcomes and that understanding the household is key to assessing their impact on energy consumption in the home.'

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Space heating demand of Cornwall – maps and methodology

Author: James Miller
MEng Renewable Energy: University of Exeter & Camborne School of Mines
February 2010

Cornwall Council commissioned James to compile a space heating energy demand map of the whole county in order to gain a greater understanding of energy use and locate areas suitable for district heating systems.

Space heating is the energy used within buildings to raise the internal temperature to a level that is comfortable for its occupants.
This report calculates the average annual space heating requirements of buildings and concludes by identifying alternative methodologies for mapping future energy use in identified growth areas.

Author’s note: For domestic power use, I have used 'MW/km2/a' (this is annual energy use, not power); this should instead read 'MW/km2' (which is power). But, ignoring the rogue 'a', all the calculations were checked and are correct.

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