Millhouses Mill Buildings and Renewable Energy

The Mill buildings site represents an ideal opportunity to invest in renewable energy (RE) technologies, assisting SCC in using Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) to support area-wide carbon reduction.  The site can contribute to Sheffield First Local Area Agreement performance targets – both NI 186 “to reduce city wide carbon emissions per capita by 10% by 2011 from a 2005 baseline”, and NI 188 “to have a city wide climate change adaptation strategy involving all partners (by 2012)”, and to the Sheffield First Partnership goal to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 50% by 2020.

The Park Regeneration Master Plan (2006) noted that it would be a pity if the opportunity to integrate the (mill) buildings and their functions into the park were lost.  The FoMP and SCC partnership now has the opportunity to transform the buildings and ensure their sustainability.

An initial desk-based survey undertaken by FoMP’s CSEP consultant indicated that the following RE options are worth exploring at the site: solar photovoltaics, solar thermal hot water, wind turbines, heat pumps, automated wood pellet stoves, wood fuelled boiler systems, micro-hydro turbines.  This makes the Mill buildings site unusual in that it may be suitable to incorporate a cluster of technologies, cost permitting.  Yorkshire and Humber region has the lowest number of CSEP applications for both project development grants and capital funding, and they are keen to see a better regional spread, so are actively encouraging applications from our area (NB their funding deadline is October 2010).

We want to follow in the tradition of industry in the Sheaf valley and demonstrate at the mill buildings site, how micro-technologies, such as micro-hydro, were utilised in the past and can be utilised today as an alternative to fossil fuels.  One of the main functions of the refurbished small building will be to provide an evolving display area with a focus on heritage and climate change, in particular how it affects our local community.

Two schemes introduced in April 2010 – FIT – (Feed-in Tariffs), and April 2011 – RHI – (Renewable Heat Incentive) will enable householders and communities who install low carbon electricity and heat technologies up to 5MW to be paid for the electricity and/or heat they generate, even if they use it themselves.  A detailed feasibility study is urgently required to provide more exact figures and give an indication of how this return can contribute to the revenue stream for the whole site – any income would return directly to SCC.

The appropriate technologies on our site that would benefit from the FIT would be hydro, PV and wind; and from the RHI, biomass, heat pumps or solar thermal.  A further payment is made for any electricity fed back into the grid.

Current guarantees from DECC – from The Coalition: our programme for government – Energy and Climate Change are as follows:

  • We will seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, subject to the advice of the Climate Change Committee.
  • We will establish a full system of feed-in tariffs in electricity.
  • We will encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced.

In cost terms, benefits range from 19.9 – 41.3 p/kWh for FITs, and 7-18 p/kWh for the RHI dependent on technology.  A return is guaranteed for a minimum of 15 years.