“Yes, the waste digestate from the anaerobic digester gets spread on the land to feed the hemp. The hemp seed can be made into oil and the fibers into insulation and the plants can also be fed to fish in aquaponics.” said Earl
“I’ve heard of aquaponics, but don’t know much. It’s using fish isn’t it rather than hyrdoponics which is plants? ” I asked.
“It combines the two because the waste from the fish is fed into your hydroponics to feed the plants. We’re hoping to develop a model for an energy park that can be copied all over the country. Not the same mix of technologies, you use what works best in an area, but the principles of mixing energy technologies and food production. Here on the levels in Somerset we’ve got a lot of water and a ltof of old peat diggings. And that’s a great way of storing energy.
“There would be a windmill which when there is wind, will pump water up into an ex-peat digging reservoir. When we need electricity the water will flow through a micro hydro-electric. Like a mini dam, so it’s like a battery for storing energy.
“The anaerobic digestion works by using biological waste, ferments it, producing methane gas which you can use.
“Solar thermal would heat the fish and chickens. Instead of using the suns energy for electricity you’re turning it into hot water. The evacuated tubes are filled with a liquid that doesn’t freeze and that transfers the heat to pipes in a hot water tank, so you’re storing energy again.
“I had some pretty serious health problems around fifteen years ago and had quite a battle coming back from that. But obviously I still wanted to do things in the real world and get on with my life. I was basically housebound most of the time but I still wanted to engage with other locals to make things happen. It was difficult at first because you’re starting something that no one knows about, no one knows if it’s possible.
“Then we got together a team of about six of us and with their help, this i what a cooperative is of course, everybody helping each other, and with their help we got it to go. We’re going for government funding and we’ll do a share offer, and we can raise millions. This is doable, anybody can do this and in fact they should be doing it. There’s lots of government support for it right now, in spite of what you might read in the papers. It takes a year or so to get the project on a realistic footing and get structures in place but it is very doable.
“The Center for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, they’re great people, they’ve been helping us a lot. The cooperative movement and Greens have been helping us a lot. You know, contact your local cooperatives and Greens and they’ll help you and possibly even be part of it. it’s a non-profit so all the profits go back into the community. Doing loft insulation for people, helping people in fuel poverty, that kind of thing. As a company you do a share offer and the shareholders get paid a dividend. Well if they’re all local people, it’s very different from paying one of the big six energy companies where it goes out of your community. This way it’s keeping the money in your community from all the energy we’re using and it’s quite a lot of money.”