Personal Finance

The future of energy? Community wind farms powering heat pumps 'slash bills by quarter'

Households could cut their energy bills by a quarter by using heat pumps powered by community wind farms, a report suggests.

And costs could be slashed even more if houses were fitted with solar panels and batteries to meet the shortfall when the wind wasn't blowing.

Calculating the upfront and running costs of wind power and heat pumps for 2,000 homes, climate campaign group Possible and energy experts Regen say it would be 26% cheaper to use the onshore wind turbines and heat pumps when compared to gas at the 2023 price cap.

Carbon emissions would also be reduced by up to 90% compared to gas heating, and protect billpayers from volatile price changes, they say.

The study is based on the 2,000 homes being connected to a 2 megawatt community wind turbine, which would need supplementing with electricity coming from the grid.

Households can reduce their energy bills by 31% if they installed solar panels.

Rebecca Windemer, planning and communities lead at Regen and one of the report's co-authors, said: "We know that we need to go much further and faster on clean heat to hit our net zero targets, and our report gives the Government the keys to a real solution. By innovating with wind, solar and clean heat technology, we can slash bills while cutting carbon."

The report urges the Government to relax planning laws to allow new onshore wind projects to be built, and raises the need for finance opportunities so local communities can build small wind farms.

Alethea Warrington, a senior campaigner at climate charity Possible, said: "Powering clean heat with clean, cheap, local energy is the ultimate win-win: lower bills, lower emissions and warm homes. Now the Government needs to remove the barriers stopping communities and our climate from benefiting from clean, secure and affordable heat."

The Government announced new rules last September that would make it easier to gain planning permission for new wind farms.

The measures include broadening the ways that suitable locations can be identified, including by communities, and speeding up the process of allocating sites by giving alternatives to the local plan process.

The Departments for Housing and Energy said the rules will "ensure the whole community has a say, not just a small number of objectors – paving the way for more onshore wind projects to come online where they have community support".

Responding to the energy study, a Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the role community groups play in tackling climate change, which is why we recently launched the £10 million Community Energy Fund to support local renewable project development."

What do you think? Would you want a wind farm in your community if it meant lower bills? Let us know in the comments below.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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