Case Study

Suffolk County Council Green Clusters

Scoping decentralised energy systems for local businesses

Following the success of the Suffolk Carbon Leaders project, Carbon Smart were commissioned to scope prospective sites for decentralised energy systems  within Suffolk, looking to maximise cost- and energy-savings for local businesses.

For the Council this was another step towards Suffolk becoming the Greenest County: supporting businesses to reduce their environmental impacts; cutting costs to Suffolk business; and looking for local suppliers to keep revenue in the county. Seeking sites where several businesses are located together opens options which wouldn’t otherwise be possible on the scale of a single business.

This strategic, county-wide review built the case for a series of decentralised systems in key locations across Suffolk. Carbon Smart worked with contacts across the Council and in the District and Borough Councils to identify strategic priorities for energy and sustainability, and ensure support for the proposed sites, before approaching landlords and businesses to present the opportunity and explore feasibility in more detail.

Channelling the local spirit for powerful solutions

Following successful long- and short-listing of sites, we have identified a number of projects to take forward to implementation. In addition to completed scoping reports for early adopters (particularly solar PV arrays), we are rolling out work in close collaboration with several businesses. Alongside ongoing monitoring and project management activities, we are applying for funding, developing electricity recharging models, and detailing heat network potential. We have also used our expertise in identifying and recommending energy efficiency measures for businesses to present a holistic review of the sites.

These prospective sites represent a significant carbon saving for Suffolk. Combining energy efficiency measures with local, renewable generation, gives Suffolk businesses greater control over their energy bills, and security of supply for the future.

A comprehensive approach

Sites scoped include large industrial estates housing food production facilities and chemical manufacturing; standalone business parks of offices and light industrial sites; and community energy schemes in rural areas. Long listed sites included brownfield sites for long-term redevelopment as a recycling and energy-from-waste facility; external network connections for an existing CHP plant at a food production facility; and exploratory networked PV arrays across a number of buildings on a large business and leisure park.

Carbon Smart’s breadth of expertise, their independence, and the local knowledge built up through the Carbon Leaders programme have all been critical to the success of the decentralised energy project, Green Clusters.

Ned HarrisonLow Carbon Economy Project Officer at Suffolk County Council

Initial viability review

  • Defining the boundaries (geographical, suitable scale of the site, operational type, etc)
  • Review of work to date and specific context
  • Working with existing data & identifying new sites

Technology review

  • Heat mapping
      • Geospatial mapping to identify heat loads and clients
      • Identifying other spatial issues, e.g. rail, road, water ways
      • Setting minimum thresholds for heat demand and density
      • Identifying anchor clients and other key clients
      • Energy centre types
  • Review of tech options
      • New energy centre – gas/biomass boiler; Combined Heat and Power plant
      • Waste heat recovery
      • Ground source heat pumps
      • Electricity supply: solar PV, CHP

Project management

  • Prioritising sites based on client criteria, and cross-checking with local development goals and activities, also including asset ownership, funding sources and eligibility, previous engagement with sustainability programmes
  • Managing engagement and consultation with sites – landlords and businesses, community groups, local government and other groups as necessary
  • Detailed scoping of sites, based on site visits, identified technology options and spatial limitations
  • Navigating planning issues and permissions
  • Presentation of prioritised sites for agreement on further analysis and feasibility studies

Financial viability

  • Securing funding for exploratory phase and feasibility studies
  • Develop business case for the proposed site and system
  • Support financing decisions and application as necessary (including private investment and grant funding)