A new way for housing?
The intersection between the need for new housing and the ongoing challenges with the way we power our society is an interesting one. A rapidly increasing population needs housing and is forcing us to rethink our energy supply so that we don’t destroy the global climate in the process.
Tried and tested solutions such as new coal fired power stations or more natural gas plants are the easy option and it is easy to see why policy makers go for the simple route when there is such pressure on them to deliver immediately. However, this will not do in the long term as fossil fuels will eventually run out.
The latest attempt to bridge the gap between housing and our energy needs is being trialled in an area of rural Scotland which is desperately in need of new homes and affordable, renewable energy. The Berwickshire Housing Association has teamed up with Community Energy Scotland to build three lofty wind turbines on top of a 183m tall hill at Hoprigshiels Farm.
Scotland has a lot of potential wind power to be harnessed and sites like this are perfect for taking a chance on turbines. As the giant turbine blades rotate over the windswept heath of the old county of Berwickshire, the electricity generated will serve two purposes.
Firstly, it will be sold back to the grid to provide sustainable energy for the local area. This will in turn reduce dependence on fossil fuel power generation which increases energy security for people and reduces bills.
Secondly, profits from the sale of clean energy will go to the creation of affordable homes for local people. Unlike their English counterparts to the South, the Scottish Government has ended the ‘right to buy’ policy which allowed people to purchase their council houses and therefore reduce stock for people who needed them in the future. This has allowed housing associations, such as the aforementioned Berwickshire Housing Association, to come up with new ways to build homes and ensure that people in the future have somewhere to live.
Projects like this wind farm could pave the way for better, more sustainable housing policies across the world when it is up and running. A relatively small loan of approximately £11m was all the project needed to get off the ground. Considering it will eventually provide power for 5,900 homes and supply the seed money for many more homes to be built, this is a bargain.
It is predicted that the loan will be paid off within 15 years. The homes built and the economic security provided will last much longer. This is a project with no obvious downsides which is a fantastic example of the sort of thing which communities can achieve if they are allowed to by their governments. The fossil fuel-backed energy companies are currently throwing more and more money at national governments as a last throw of the dice to maintain their dominance over the market, but their economic case is diminishing more and more each passing year.
Successful projects like the Hoprigshiels Farm wind power experiment will inevitably become more common in the coming years as an increasing number of communities see there is a way out of the energy monopolies which currently run the world.