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Climate change spotlight is on Freedom Project

Posted on: 04/12/2018

Wales & West Utilities is firmly in the ‘climate change’ spotlight after scooping a Green Energy Award for its pioneering Freedom Project.

Alongside partners Western Power Distribution and PassivSystems, the company picked up the Clean Energy Scheme award at Regen’s Green Energy Awards, held at the Assembly Rooms in Bath.

The Freedom Project is an industry leading collaboration between gas and electricity network operators, Wales & West Utilities and Western Power Distribution. The award held up the project as an example of demonstrating how hybrid heating can help fully decarbonise heat by 2050 while keeping disruption to customers to a minimum and energy bills low.

The award for the pioneering project comes a week after it played host to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (UKCCC). The visit by committee members brightly shone the spotlight on how the future use of smart hybrid gas and electric heating systems in homes can benefit industry and householders, whilst also reducing the effects on climate change.

As part of the visit the group went along to two homes in Bridgend which have taken part in the £5.2 million Freedom Project since Autumn 2017. The visit enabled the group to see first-hand how the installation of 75 hybrid heating systems, in a mix of private and social housing in Bridgend, has delivered benefits. They also spent time speaking to the householders taking part in the project about the difference it has personally made to them.

The visit followed a report published last week by the UKCCC which stated that retrofitting a hybrid heat pump system at the same time as implementing energy efficiency improvements to a building would minimise overall disruption and sharply reduce its emissions. It reported that, as demonstrated by the Freedom Project, these can be operated smartly, with the ability to fall back on gas (or ultimately hydrogen) boilers when necessary. This would add considerably to the responsiveness of electricity demand, helping it to operate with increasing amounts of weather dependent power generation.

Chris Clarke, Wales & West Utilities Energy Strategy Director, said:

“We are delighted that the Freedom Project is leading the way and is being held up as an example of a project which demonstrates vast positives for customers and one that is pointing towards an 80 per cent reduction in the use of gas, which has obvious climate change benefits.

“To win this industry award for our work is fantastic and it builds on the visit last week by members of the UK Committee on Climate Change.  We are keen to spread the message wide to highlight the pioneering work and the decarbonisation benefits smart controlled hybrid heating brings in allowing flexible switching between renewable electricity and green gas based on cost and carbon intensity.

The Freedom Project is funded through the Ofgem Network Innovation Allowance and uniquely brings together the gas and electricity network operators in a cross-sector trial to provide them with robust, field-tested data which can make a meaningful contribution to a long-term whole-systems approach to network investment planning.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night.