Sustainable and affordable energy for residents and businesses
This section covers the ways in which Sheffield can transform in order to provide clean and cheap energy to the masses.
What needs to be changed to achieve this?
Sheffield already has a strong head-start with its energy network, having developed a strong track record with its investment in energy projects over the years. In the 1970s, the city was one of the first in the UK to develop its own district heat network; this network is ongoing today, with development continuing both with the private sector and local government. The Council Energy Recovery Facility on Bernard Road, operated by Veolia, converts local waste into energy and heat used by the district heat network, supplying over 140 buildings in the city with 45MW of energy, in addition to generating 21MW for the national grid – enough to power around 25,000 homes.
More recently, Sheffield has constructed two biomass energy plants, creating low-carbon energy from natural materials. The biomass facility at Blackburn Meadows, which was constructed at a cost of £100 million, holds the largest battery storage facility in the UK, with a capacity of 10MW. There are ongoing proposals for a renewable energy business park in the north of the city, which would help continue this trend of renewable, local energy.
However, progress is still needed for affordable energy in Sheffield. In 2018, it was estimated 12% of Sheffield homes live in fuel poverty – that’s around 29,000 households. This is due not only to low income, but to high costs of fuel, and homes that are difficult and expensive to heat. With fuel costs ever-increasing, this can be overwhelming for some vulnerable residents, because of health risks associated with living in cold and damp conditions. Investment in insulation and local energy schemes would help eliminate this.
The Sheffield City Region has a disproportionately high demand for energy, due to the local industrial and commercial sectors requiring intensive energy usage – approximately 11.5% higher for electricity, compared to the rest of England. The Green City Strategy recommends a rollout of more renewables and implementation of cost-effective measures to reduce the enormous energy bill of local industries, and free up that money for the local economy, making room for investment and growth.
Another publication, the Northern Energy Strategy by IPPR, declares a strong ambition for the North of England to become the leaders in the shift to low-carbon energy, calling for devolution of powers to local authorities in order to invest in a reformed energy system that will accelerate the region into an efficient, clean low-carbon economy.