One of the things which has come out of the pandemic is how important nature is to us all. Our green spaces have provided us with places to relax and enjoy nature at close quarters.
But did you know these green spaces could also be helping the climate by providing clean heat to nearby buildings?
From May 2013, and May 2019 we’ve had Green Cllrs at County and District Level. Many of them have espoused we treat out climate better by improving our environment by planting trees or creating slow vehicle areas (20mph zones), but these alone will not resolve the issue of reducing carbon emissions.
One such solution for all newly elected KCC Cllrs and District Cllrs is to lower emissions on their own estate. One such way of doing this is to use the vast amounts of ambient heat beneath school playing fields, our parks, our canal etc. This heat can be harvested as low carbon thermal energy to be used in the KCCs primary & secondary schools, village halls, civic buildings and potentially the Princes Parade Leisure Centre and other buildings at Otterpool, if they get built.
Understanding how a heat pump works means remembering two key things from your school physics lessons. The first thing is that pressure affects the boiling point of a liquid. Lowering the pressure means a fluid will turn into a gas at cooler temperatures, while raising the pressure means the fluid must be hotter before it can boil. That’s why it’s easier to boil water on top of a mountain, where air pressure is low, than it is at sea level.
The second thing is that a gas turning into a liquid will release heat energy and warm the environment, while a liquid turning into a gas does the opposite – sucking in heat energy and cooling the environment. (This is why sweating cools us down, as the liquid sweat evaporates).
The combination of these two effects means that by controlling the pressure, we can make a liquid turn into a gas, or a gas to a liquid, whenever we want – warming or cooling the environment in the process
We are possible wrote a report in December 2019, titled Powering Parks. It estimates across all Kent district that 171 megawatts could be harnessed by using ambient heat energy from our parks alone. Add in school playing fields and that rises to approx 210 megawatts.
Such a step would prevent approximately 60,000 tonnes of Co2 each year being released into the county’s atmosphere, each year.
Yes, there will be an initial outlay, but our council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council has set aside £4.75 million for green initiatives. Surely using free ambient heat energy could be classified a green initiative.
Both KCC and Folkestone & Hythe District council want to save money. By installing heat pumps both will do exactly that given time.
In Feb 2020 Kent County Council announced it was to use water source heat pumps in the River Medway to provide the majority of the heat to Sessions House and Invicta House in addition to the Kent History and Library Centre. In Feb 2021, it was announced KCC had been awarded £2.4 million for this project.
Bringing this local.
Hythe Town Council; which is a Green led coalition council, could propose a ground heat system to power it’s office, the library next door and South Rd Pavilion. They could easily use the Oaklands field in front of it’s office to power its office and library. They could also use South Rd football pitches to power the Pavilion. Doing this would lower HTC’s emissions in all three buildings and make them greener. There has been money for such initiatives for a good number of years, and since the Green led coalition at HTC was elected in May 2019, they’ve done little to tackle the emissions on their estate, except plant trees.
Hythe Town Council could if it wanted to show it’s green credentials, bring a motion to explore the possibility of making an application for funding from the Govt’s Heat Networks Investment Project, whose aims are to
increase the number of heat networks being built
deliver carbon savings
help create the conditions necessary for a sustainable heat network market to develop
HTC could also apply to the District Council as it has £4.75 million available for Green Initiatives. Two years in not one single Cllr has had this bright idea. They’ve gone for the low lying fruit – planting trees.
Staying local, Radnor Park could be used to power the cafe building, Parish Council’s could use the ambient heat from underneath their car parks to power their village halls. Many, if not all of our primary and secondary schools could use their playing fields, or parks nearby, to heat their classrooms, so saving thousands of tonnes of emissions pouring into our environment each year; and saving money.
If Princes Parade leisure centre does eventually get built, the current Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) could insist that the heating system to power it, could be an ambient underground system, ensuring any building would go some way to reducing the Council’s carbon footprint for years to come.
Cllr Whybrow and her opposition colleagues could also ensure that if any civic buildings are to be built at Otterpool, they too incorporate ambient underground heat technology to power them. This would ensure the environment is spared hundreds of tonnes of Co2 being emitted into it.
If KCC wish to reach net zero emissions on its estate by 2030, as does Folkestone & Hythe District Council, the sooner they begin implementing other means to reduce their emissions, such as ambient heat from under their land, the sooner we who live in the Garden of England can live in a cleaner environment.
The Shepway Vox Team
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