September 10, 2020

Wind farms may be used for Oxfordshire to reach zero carbon

By Gergana Krasteva, Trainee Reporter | Oxford Mail |

An Oxfordshire council could start using solar energy or offshore wind farms to curb its carbon emissions as early as next year.

Vale of White Horse District councillors discussed the authority’s future electricity supply during Monday’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee meeting in a bid to make the council carbon-neutral in the next 10 years.

The proposed energy contract – the so-called Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) – could see other Oxfordshire councils, including larger parishes, work together with the district to limit their carbon emissions.

Tackling the climate emergency is a priority theme in the proposed Corporate Plan for 2020-2024 and the PPA is ‘vital’ to meet the council’s target to reduce its own carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2025 and become a carbon neutral council by 2030.

Such a contract is one way that the council can achieve zero carbon emissions from its own electricity use.

This follows last year’s decision announced by Vale leader Emily Smith ‘to aspire to become carbon neutral by 2030 and become a carbon neutral district by 2045’.

The proposal will see local authorities having a direct arrangement with a generator.

It will pay the generator for the energy supplied and in turn, the generator will provide the council with a ‘renewable

energy credit’, certifying that the council is using electricity with zero carbon emissions.

However, Vale’s corporate energy officer Heather Saunders, who presented the plan on Monday, emphasised that ‘no commitment has been made at this stage’.

Councillor for Kennington and Radley Bob Johnston, who attended the meeting, called the proposal ‘perfectly reasonable’.

He commented: “This illustrates the difficulty of being truly green.

“However, it would be useful and beneficial to include parish and town councils in this proposal.

“Many of them run buildings with quite large energy requirements – Kennington for example has a huge village centre, while Radley also has a large village hall and a pavilion.”

The report on the PPA also mentions that the council could use offshore wind farms to generate energy, despite that there are no such resources in the county.

It stated: “Offshore wind energy tends to be a better match than solar but would not be local.

“Any PPAs with Oxfordshire-based generators are likely to use solar.”

The report also said that if the district council chooses to contract the Headington-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub, the terms could be agreed by as early as February.

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