Energy is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Reading and addressing the way energy is generated and used is fundamental to delivering a low carbon future for the town.
Energy supply is an essential part of modern day life. From homes to businesses, from transport to electronic gadgets, energy drives our societies. The way we generate that energy has major implications for air quality and more widely, can impact the global atmosphere through the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Looking at the way energy is generated and delivered, as well as how it is consumed, are key focuses for the Reading’s Climate Change Strategy.
The start of any good plan to reduce emissions from energy supply must be to look at reducing wasted energy, such as through investments such as improving building insulation, or simple actions to switch electrical items off whenever possible. Improving the energy efficiency of energy consuming devices is then a major area of opportunity, as well as considering the way that energy itself is generated and supplied.
Energy generation is changing rapidly in the UK; from a rapid phasing out of coal-fired power stations, to the mushrooming role of renewable energy and the development of electric vehicles. This presents new opportunities for Reading, and looking to generate and distribute more energy locally is another important area to look at. This includes renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar photovoltaics and must also look at opportunities to provide low carbon heat directly to buildings.
These opportunities are therefore broad ranging, and with this in mind, we have set 2 broad ranging strategic priorities:
- Reduce energy consumption in Reading (T1SP14)
- Decarbonise the energy supply of Reading (T1SP2)
What’s being done to reduce energy consumption in Reading and what can I do?
Reading Borough Council has an ongoing programme to reduce the energy consumption of its own estate, including a major investment to upgrade street lighting to highly efficient LED models. They also offer support, advice and low interest loans to schools through their Salix fund (academy schools are able to apply directly to Salix for equivalent loans).
All businesses which pay corporation tax are eligible for the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme, providing tax breaks on the purchase energy efficient technologies, and an equivalent scheme for water efficient technologies.
What about decarbonising energy?
In 2017, 25.4% of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewable energy technologies. The first community energy company in Reading was set up in 2015, and Reading Community Energy Society now has a portfolio of 183 kWp of solar photovoltaic panels around Reading, with plans to expand further. Meanwhile, plans are progressing for another community energy organisation, Reading Hydro scheme, to install a hydro-electric scheme on Caversham wier. The Reading Climate Change Partnership has provided grant funding support to assist with some of their upfront costs.
While electricity is becoming less carbon intensive, heating remains a major potential area to explore. Recognising this, Reading Borough Council have recently commissioned a heat mapping study of the Borough to help understand the opportunities for low carbon heating developments. This may include new district heating networks, such as the one at University of Reading, as well as the installation of low carbon heat pumps.
Full details of our Energy Supply Action Plan can be found here.