The town of Woking in the United Kingdom has achieved significant reductions in energy use and carbon emissions by introducing innovative energy policies to encourage distributed power generation.
Woking council is one of worlds’s leaders in adopting green energy technologies. Several combined heat and power stations provide district heating and electricity, and electricity is also provided by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and solar cells dispersed throughout the borough. These are linked via an innovative private electricity distribution system operating completely off the public power grid.
In order to do this the local government laid new power lines to all locations on the Woking sustainable community energy system (due to Department of Trade and Industry regulations). Should the public power grid fail, central Woking would continue to have an energy supply.
The cost for providing this is approximately UK£0.01/kWh less than for public electricity. It has been reported that the borough saves UK£974,000 a year in energy costs if the installation costs are ignored. By March 2004 the initiatives had also cut the borough’s carbon emissions by 17.24%, and those of the council by 77.4%.
Woking Station Canopy, which was approved by Woking Councillors in March 2004, was built in 2007. It is equipped with photovoltaic cells to collect sunlight and convert it into energy. The canopy has 35,000 photovoltaic cells, producing an estimated 51,000 to 58,000kWh of electricity a year. The power will light the canopy as well as being sent to other council sites for use there. Woking Borough Council estimates the canopy could save the town in excess of 41 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
On Friday 23rd March 2007, Prince Charles opened a climate change exhibition in Woking. The exhibition, which is a joint venture by Business in the Community and BCSC and endorsed by the Climate Group, featured display stands with information on issues like recycling, energy use, transport, waste reduction and food sources. He also inspected work on the Albion Square canopy. After the launch, the prince took lunch at Auberge. He then gave a speech to introduce Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, which was being viewed by local business leaders.
However, the Woking Solar Canopy was demolished in 2018.