A remarkable few weeks since Inception of this blog.
Firstly, and most importantly, the Smart Accelerator launch event took place on Thursday 25th September and so, after a period of Purdah, LNG is now free to tell the world that the Linlithgow Natural Grid initiative has – until the end of March 2015 – around £37k seed funding to help cover the start-up of what we aim to be a new kind of local community energy utility.
But we have not been idly waiting: we’ve hit the ground running (which in LNG’s human dynamo, Neil Barnes’ case includes a 10km run for charity!). We have two initial projects we aim to implement by way of ‘Proof of Concept’ of the smart and accelerated community-based energy development which LNG is being funded to demonstrate in Linlithgow.
Electricity – Vennel Solar
We aim to install arrays of solar panels on the two Vennel blocks of flats and – on the premise that it makes little sense for our community to sell to the Big Six for 5p/Kilowatt Hour what we then buy back for 15p/KwH – we aim for as much as possible of the energy produced to be supplied directly to residents and business occupants of the Vennel buildings. Brixton Energy shows what’s possible: we aim to adapt and simplify the Brixton model considerably.
Heat – Linlithgow Energy Corridor
The beauty about heat projects is that they enable energy savings to be made which are at the retail price of energy. So the higher that retail energy prices go the more £ consumers will save to spend elsewhere.
The Linlithgow Energy Corridor is the working title of a project to create an initial ‘spine’ of what will grow organically to become a Linlithgow Heat Network.
Our initial thoughts – based upon our initial study by Aberdeen University and subsequent research & discussion – are to install hot water and power connections between two major sources of heat/power demand at Low Port and by the Cross and onwards to source additional heat from the Linlithgow Loch. The key point is that rather than digging up Linlithgow High Street at vast cost and inconvenience, the Linlithgow Energy Corridor would run through soft ground adjacent to the Southern boundary of Linlithgow Peel
Our initial soundings with the two key stakeholders: West Lothian Council (who will benefit mightily from energy savings at Low Port and the Burgh Halls); and Historic Scotland (who will see both economic benefits and potential environmental benefits to Linlithgow Loch water quality) have been extremely positive.
So our next step is a major feasibility study, including wide community consultation. Watch this space.
West Lothian Questions
Secondly, as one or two of our readers may just have noticed, there’s also been a Referendum!
LNG’s position on this is completely neutral and objective. LNG is not interested in political independence: our aim is to achieve Energy independence for Linlithgow. By drastically reducing the £6.5m currently bleeding out of Linlithgow every year to sheikhs, oligarchs, the City of London and even Wall Street, we aim to enable Linlithgow to achieve energy security and resilience.
I’m pleased to report that all three of our local councillors are completely supportive of the Linlithgow Natural Grid initiative and will keenly observe our progress. Indeed, one of them serendipitously has a lifetime’s experience as a marine engineer to bring to bear. Not only that, but we have been informed – provisionally – that LNG will be allowed to make a presentation to the full Council before its meeting on 2nd December.
We believe that LNG’s Natural Grid energy policy approach will enable West Lothian to lead the field in addressing the challenges it faces, whether economic stringency; addressing fuel poverty and climate change or simply creating a sustainable West Lothian.
Maybe the reality is that we need neither Westminster nor Holyrood answers to Tam Dalyell’s famous West Lothian Question.
Perhaps West Lothian Questions require West Lothian Answers?