Ceredigion County Council
Ceredigion County Council covers a large predominantly rural area of Wales, its largest towns being Aberystwyth, Aberaeron and Cardigan.
The Council's corporate aims include promotion of "sustainable development and resource management", and within that larger aim, to:
These aims are fully reflected, in more detail, in the Council's corporate property strategy.
Mains gas services are unavailable in many parts of the area, so the use of electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or solid fuel for heating is widespread. As a result, the Council considered alternative, more sustainable, means of heating provision in its Council buildings.
The Council's first wood pellet fuelled biomass boiler scheme was at Llandysul Leisure Centre completed in September 2002. Following the successful operation of this first scheme, a much larger second scheme was developed at Penmorfa, Aberaeron. This scheme has been successful in delivering sustainable efficiencies for the Council and won the CLAW Sustainability Award in 2007, and was also highly commended by the UK Building Services Environmental Initiative of the Year scheme.
The Penmorfa Renewable Energy Facility provides heating and hot water to four buildings totalling some 8,000sq metres. The buildings are:
The heating and hot water is provided to these four buildings by way of a 550kW biomass boiler, fuelled by woodchip. This is locally sourced from local wood working and agricultural businesses, taking advantage of the high proportion of forestation in the area.
The four buildings were formerly heated by oil and electricity and demanded approximately 2,030 MW/hrs to provide heating and hot water. The operation of the new boiler has reduced fuel costs and reduced CO2 emissions.
Prior to the installation of the new system, the fuel bill (oil and electric) for Penmorfa biomass facility amounted to approximately £69,000 per annum. The 2009 annual fuel costs amounted to just over £36,000 - a reduction of some 48 per cent (£33,000 per annum). CO2 emissions were also reduced - by 324 tonnes per annum from the previous heating method.
The capital cost of the scheme was £675,000, funded in part by the Welsh Assembly Government's Wood Energy Business Scheme and by the Energy Saving Trust's Community Energy Programme as well as through the Council's capital programme.
In addition to the reductions in energy costs and CO2.emissions, the operation of the biomass boiler helps sustain local jobs through the local sourcing of renewable fuel.
The success of these earlier schemes has encouraged the development of further similar projects. The latest (and largest) biomass heating project in Ceredigion was completed in September 2009 in Aberystwyth and is similarly fuelled with locally sourced woodchip.
Phase one of the Aberystwyth scheme started operating in late 2009. The 1,250 - 1,650kW woodchip boiler provides heating and hot water to the new Ceredigion County Council Offices and new Welsh Assembly Government Offices which together have a floor area totalling almost 15,000m². When complete the biomass facility will also provide energy for the Plascrug Leisure Centre and Penweddig Secondary School.
Canolfan Rheidol which is the new County Council Offices provides accommodation for some 470 staff The building includes a wind turbine and solar panels for domestic hot water, and has received a BREEAM Excellent rating for its sustainable design.
A number of lessons have been learnt as the three projects have evolved. These include:
Ceredigion's solutions to improving sustainability are specifically tailored to the Council's corporate aims and to the local circumstances of this rural area. The schemes will be delivering measurable benefits not only in terms of reducing fuel costs, but also in terms of environmental sustainability (biomass fuel substitutes fossil fuel and can also reduce landfill where wood waste is used for fuel) and economic sustainability (utilising locally sourced fuel and supporting the local economy).