Stoke-on-Trent a city self sufficient in low carbon energy?

Some positive news for Stoke-on-Trent City Council which has been given Creative Council status by Nesta.

Creative Councils is a programme from Nesta and the Local Government Association to support innovators in local government across England and Wales to develop and implement radical innovations that address a long-term challenge that matters in their area.

Creative Council status was given to only six councils out of the 137 which applied so Stoke-on-Trent getting through the scoring and being given this status is no mean feat.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council which according to the Nesta website is

developing its goal to become an energy sufficient ‘Great Working City’, pushing the boundaries of energy regulation and localism by moving towards local ownership of energy supply and reimagining the role of the council as a strategic broker of resources.

hasn’t said anything publicly about gaining Creative Council status. Maybe they are too wrapped up in spinning the story of how moving the council offices in to Hanley is a good thing for the city while leaving Stoke destitute.

The summary of the Stoke-on-Trent City Council application to become a Creative Council  says

Imagine a depressed, socially disadvantaged area where 20,000 jobs in the region are dependent on manufacturing, and where the ceramics industry is strong, but vulnerable to fluctuating energy prices. To transform the future of the City, Stoke on Trent City Council is working to bring partners and the community together behind a vision to create a “Great Working City”. This vision creates several unique selling points. One of these is to become a city region which is self-sufficient in low carbon energy generation and thereby divorced from the vagaries of fossil fuel prices. This is an objective that deals with many of the issues facing towns and cities and their local authorities across the country.

Nationally the Government are reporting a country wide “energy gap”. Ofgem report that electricity prices could by 60% in the next 5 years, and National Grid advise that there could be blackouts in the same timeframe.

We want to use the ability the Local Authority has as local leader, facilitator and asset owner to enable economic growth as the engine for the transformation of our City. The City supports a population of 240,000 living in 110,000 properties and is home to over 7,000 businesses. Partnership working has commenced involving the Carbon Trust, the Universities of Staffordshire and Keele, the Chamber of Commerce, specialist consultants and utility contributions from E.ON and Scottish Power. Our benchmarking work has established that, in order to achieve that goal of regional self-sufficiency, we need to replace 600 megawatts of power generation capacity.

We can all look at piecemeal initiatives to decrease energy use and develop one or two renewable energy projects, but what about considering a strategic approach to fuel security which optimises partnership working and creates a diversity of fuel sources and infrastructure?

Becoming a city that is self sufficient in energy would be a fantastic feat if we can pull it off and we should be fully supportive of the City Council for being visionary enough to look at this as a priority.

Discussions with representatives from Nesta have already taken place at the Civic Centre and hopefully now we will see not only some positive publicity but some steps forward in making Stoke-on-Trent a low carbon energy city.

Just imagine how much further forward we would be with this dream of low carbon energy generation if we had decent recycling and In Vessel Composting somewhere in the city.


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