How much Energy do we use and who uses it?

If we’re going to plan our future energy needs a good point to start with is how much do we currently use. More information on this is being made available and the the available sources are through the Office of National Statistics and, more recently (March 2012), the Department of Energy and Climate Change has published an amazing national heatmap where fairly detailed information is displayed both as tables and contoured graphic maps for every district. I’ve abstracted the data for both Rye and the surrounding villages  and show it below, together with the links to the DECC website so you can make your own analyses.

The detail figures are in the following table:-



The website addresses are listed and should show you a map with the perimeter of each area delineated. As far as possible I have tried to minimise the agricultural land . They are all from the newly published National Heatmap produced by DECC, the Department of Energy and Climate Change. By any standard this is a remarkable work of data collation and presentation – but also see the comments below. If the links don’t work, try copying them into the command line of your browser.

Rye and Playden

Peasmarsh and Kitchenour Lane

Houghton Green & Cliffe Wood

Iden & Rye Foreign

Rye Harbour

Harbour Rd Industrial

Winchelsea & Winchelsea Beach


It has been quite a rapid process of assimilation to take in the detail of the heatmap and so I’m sure I’ve missed a few tricks along the way. I would very much appreciate comments on the data.

So far I’ve not tracked down a decent description of the data sources which have been used to aggregate the data and I have noticed a significant difference between the figures presented here and those available from the Office of National Statistics website. These figures for domestic users are about 60% of those shown in the ONS listings (for 2009). I’m sure there is a consistent explanation for this but it has so far eluded me.

There are some interesting data items – for instance who is the industrial user in the Peasmarsh area absorbing nearly 2000 Mwh per annum? (1 Mwh – Megawatthour – is 1000 Kwh). Each of the figures shown above could stand some detail data analysis, certainly when we come to look at how their energy could be generated in future.

The data have a certain sort of inevitabilty to them in that Residential represents over 65% of the total demand. Although it’s not shown in these tables, the bulk of that demand is for space heating and therefore it highlights where the bulk of the effort should be concentrated – i.e. energy conservation – it’s the most cost-effective form of energy generation in one sense – hence the Government and industry’s big efforts to implement the Green Deal.

About a year ago I attended an excellent series of lectures from David Martin of University College, London, an expert on local Vernacular Building,  where he came up with an astonishing statistic. A property census was carried out for tax purposes about 1625 in the area and identified about 2600 buildings on the register. He has recently checked this register and has identified at least 1300 of them being still there either in whole or in part. This historic legacy is a major part of what makes this area so attractive both to live in and for visitors and tourists. We are still heating and ventilating these buildings and thus a major part of our effort locally must be to adapt and modernise this legacy in such a way that it becomes a both  lot more energy efficient and preserves that heritage for future generations.

I hope in further posts to review the available technologies for local energy generation, in effect a blue sky review of the possibilies, and then move on to some possible scenarios for community energy. All contributions of ideas and insights gratefully received.




Transition Rye and Energy

Rye as a Transition Town? So, what is a transition town and why should Rye be part of the initiative? That is what this blog is about, a way of stimulating the discussion about the future of the town and what we, as residents, can do to improve it.  It will succeed if you, the reader, take part in the discussion and help form the future of the town.

Why should we be thinking more about the future of the town now rather than at any other time? Because large changes are under way – we have come to the end of an era and there is now no going back. Modern life depends on an abundant supply of energy and, to get that energy, we have been generating an awful  lot of carbon dioxide – CO2 for short. Scientists keep telling us that the climate is changing and indeed our experience of weather during the last couple of years bears this out – excessively cold at the end of 2010 and much less rain – the reservoirs are less than half full this Spring. Something is definitely happening.

At the same time the cost of that energy has shot up – in a very real sense the era of cheap energy is over and the evidence is all around, most immediately in the price of petrol at the pumps and the stubbornly high cost of electricity and gas. A shorthand for this is the price of crude oil and some of us remember when it was $3 a barrel – corrected for inflation that would be a current figure of $17 a barrel – currently it hovers between $90 and $100 a barrel, shooting up to a recent high of $147 a barrel. You’ll have to forgive the dollar and barrel shorthand – it’s the way the oil industry has always done it – see for an excellent analysis of the history of crude oil prices.  These headline prices are reflected therefore in  every other energy source price.

These prices represent input costs on  every endeavour in life – including running Rye. The added kicker is that the use of fossil fuel for energy is practically all we have known in the last 150 years and has been the underpinning of the extraordinary economic progress during that period – and, in a sense, why Rye has been able to keep its marvellous sense of history with a built environment and unique ethos – and high energy usage.

The twin pressures of climate change and high energy prices therefore mean we have to change how we do things, at the same time preserve our heritage for both ourselves and generations to come. In a nutshell that is the challenge of Transition Rye. We have to plan for a different future.

Brutus in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, memorably says;-

The enemy increaseth every day;

We, at the height, are ready to decline. 

There is a tide in the affairs of men, 

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 

Omitted, all the voyage of their life 

Is bound in shallows and in miseries. 

On such a full sea are we now afloat; 

And we must take the current when it serves, 

Or lose our ventures.

Purple prose it may be, but he expresses clearly the danger of inaction. There is indeed great fortune in taking the right course of action. How then, to select that course?

The thesis is that we can improve our future by community action – more specifically by the community planning and investing in its energy future – community energy. Rye is particularly well suited for this approach. It is a comparatively self-contained and compact community in a large hinterland and surrounded by small villages. We are situated in a wonderful part of the country with excellent natural resources, water, wind and sun – we have one of the highest solar gains in the whole of the UK. We think we can establish a community-based energy enterprise owned in large part by the community with the objective of making us progressively more independent of imported energy, at the same time reducing the emissions of CO2  and making money for the community.

Such a radical agenda will necessarily mean quite significant changes over the next 20 years  in how we do things and modifications to the local environment. The government has set targets of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050.The changes to meet these targets can only come about by agreement – they cannot be imposed since we do not live under a dictatorship. It is hoped therefore in successive entries to this blog to establish some of the basic background – the size of the problem if you like – and invite you to comment and put up your ideas and solutions. It will be an interesting ride!