The environmental evangelising of a retired mechanical engineer, Brian Piper, is bringing a renewable energy revolution to the streets of a small Cornish village. Until now, Stithians, which sits halfway between Redruth and Falmouth, was best known for its annual show, said to be the largest agricultural spectacle in Cornwall. But Piper is determined that in future the village will become known for its role in tackling climate change. For years Piper has been educating local parishes about the threat from global heating. In 2017 he formed the Stithians Energy Group, producing pamphlets which circulated helpful information around the local parishes about how people could reduce their carbon footprint. “We talked about climate change, from the very basics right through to net zero Britain. One of the things that we featured was heat pumps,” he said. “But the problem with ground source heat pumps is the cost. They come in at around £20,000 depending on the size of the property, and that has been a deterrent for people.” One of the members of the energy group worked for the Cornish firm Kensa Utilities, whose factory three miles from the village is the only UK producer of ground-source heat pumps. So when the company applied for money from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money to pursue the idea of spreading the use of ground-source heat pumps by providing a communal grid of underground pipes to source the energy, the villagers of Stithians wrote in support of its application. Now Stithians is part of a multimillion-pound pilot project to link homes to the underground low-carbon energy system. Known as Heat the Streets, the project has been given £6.2m from the ERDF. Hundreds of homes, both new-build and older houses and bungalows, in three areas of Cornwall will be linked up to the new system of underground heating. The first boreholes were drilled this month in the streets to install a network of pipes to draw heat from the rock beneath, and feed into heat pumps in individual properties.
Guardian 22nd June 2022 read more »