Sustainable community energy system

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A sustainable community energy system is an integrated approach to supplying a local community with its energy requirements from renewable energy or high-efficiency co-generation energy sources. The approach can be seen as a development of the distributed generation concept.

Such systems are based on a combination of district heating, district cooling, plus 'electricity generation islands' that are interlinked via a private wire electricity system (largely bypassing the normal power grid to cut transmission losses and charges, as well as increasing the robustness of the system). The surplus from one generating island can therefore be used to make up the deficit at another.

[edit] United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the first sustainable community energy system was pioneered by Woking Borough Council, starting in 1991. The system uses traditional and a phosphoric acid fuel cell [1] co-generation plants, thermal storage, heat fired absorption cooling and photovoltaics (over 9% of the UK's small capacity), to supply both residential and non-residential customers, as well as the Council's own facilities. By end of 2005 there were over 60 generating islands in the Borough.

Despite the investment in the plant, the system delivers cheaper energy than can be supplied from the traditional 'brown energy' suppliers, helping to tackle fuel poverty. It is part of a plan to cut local carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050 and by 80% by 2100. Their initiatives won the Council the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2002 [2].

The London Climate Change Agency is starting to construct a similar system in London.

see also Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom

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Sustainable community energy system

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