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Rampion wind farm
media release, Hove Civic Society
16 July 2014

Hove Civic Society welcomes the decision announced on 16.7.14 to give consent to the Rampion wind farm project, which will generate 2.1 bn kWh pa of carbon free electricity to keep the lights on in Sussex from 2017, at a cost to consumers of between 12-16 p/kWh. This is a good step forward, but will not be enough in itself to meet the government’s target of providing 15% of all energy use, including transport, to be renewable by 2020, rising to 34% by 2030. Other carbon saving renewable energy projects are therefore also required.

Shoreham gas fired power station faces Rampion across the sea, and throws away 20% more energy than Rampion will generate, namely 2.5 bn kWh pa of hot water at about 30 degrees C. These carbon emissions could be saved if the station was converted to Combined Heat and Power / District Heating (CHP/DH) by removing a few rows of turbine blades to increase the temperature to 90 degrees C. The station could then keep the radiators hot in 100,000 buildings (150,000 homes) from Worthing to Kemp Town at a cost of less than 7p/kWh. The energy efficiency of the station would then rise from about 50% to over 90%.

This technology has been practised in Northern Continental Europe for a century, where most power stations are over 90% efficient by feeding their waste heat into a district heating network, keeping the radiators hot as well as the lights on in their towns. For example, in Denmark practically every urban building is already connected to a district heating network, enabling the Danish government to legislate to become zero carbon by 2050.

This CHP/DH project would save carbon emissions at half the cost of Rampion (less than 7p/kWh compared to 12-16p/kWh)  It is also more  economically viable (less cost per kWh to consumers) than power from Hinckley Point C nuclear power station, estimated to cost 9.5p/kWh. It has less environmental impact than fracking for gas at Balcombe. It would also create more local jobs, with zero environmental impact once the pipes are laid in the streets, and have an economic life of more than a century.

It is therefore the most cost-effective  and environmentally friendly way of saving carbon emissions in Sussex, so should be included in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s, (DECC’s) energy policy. It should be professionally evaluated in a pre-feasibility study (preferably by continental consulting engineers who are used to this technology) at an estimated cost of £40,000.