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Heat networks for Bolton, Exeter, Greenwich and Hull

Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) awards additional £80.6m for low carbon heat pumps and projects using waste heat from industry and sewerage. 

Industrial processes and our daily activities can produce a lot of waste energy. In particular, manufacturing and the disposal of human waste can produce a lot of excess heat. But now we’re finding ways to make use of is by-product for low-cost, low-carbon heating. 

architectural photography of bridge

Walkway on top of the O2 Arena, Greenwich Peninsula, photo by Charlie Seaman

The GHNF has now announced funding of £80.6m to be shared by projects across the country, in Bolton, Exeter, Greenwich and Hull. Details of each initiative are listed below. 

The money is delivered by Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management on behalf of the UK government. Ken Hunnisett, Programme Director for Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management, says: ‘This latest cohort of successful GHNF applicants are proving that the potential for our homes and workplaces to be heated sustainably and affordably by renewable sources or from waste heat from existing infrastructure such as our sewerage works and industry is being realised today. 

‘The use of excess heat from local sewage plants is another exemplary heat network model that builds on and utilises existing infrastructure to deliver low-carbon heating to local areas. These projects are expected to move quickly into construction, delivering significant immediate benefits to the communities they will serve while providing a blueprint for others to learn from and develop.’ 

Bolton  

The GHNF has awarded £11m for the construction of the Bolton District Heating Network, which will use a heat pump to extract waste heat from the combined sewer that runs through Bolton town centre. That means capturing and redistributing waste energy from pre-heating water for baths, kitchens, showers and washing machines, which can then be used to heat buildings. 

In doing so, the new heat network is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 75%, the equivalent of 123,000 tonnes of CO2 over 40 years, akin to removing 15,000 cars from the road. 

An air source heat pump will provide additional capacity, enabling further expansion across Bolton. 

A range of buildings including Bolton Town Hall, Le Mans Crescent, social housing developments and the University of Bolton will benefit from the low-carbon heating via the new network, as will a range residential and commercial buildings, including new build developments. 

Cllr Silvester, Executive Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment at Bolton Council, says: ‘This will be an innovative and ambitious way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in Bolton town centre. It will be a major project as part of the council’s climate change strategy. It will generate energy that is not only clean and green, but also affordable, lowering energy bills for all connected customers and increasing energy security and resilience. 

‘The scale of this project demonstrates the council’s commitment to a low carbon future for Bolton and the wider city-region, delivering on our climate emergency obligations, and we expect it to benefit residents and businesses in Bolton town centre, as well as helping to attract new investment that will boost jobs and regeneration.’ 

Exeter 

£42.5m has been awarded by GHNF to the Exeter Energy Network, a low-to-zero carbon district heat network. This will be developed by the 1Energy Group, which is also investing a further £70m in the project.  

This network will incorporate the UK’s largest high-temperature water source heat pump and could also use other local sources of waste heat in the area. At least 500m3 of thermal stores will provide additional efficiency and flexibility.  

From the energy centre, a 20km network of highly insulated underground pipes will distribute heat to buildings across the city. The first phase is expected to provide 60GWh of low-carbon heat per year, expanding to more than 90GWh per year over time. 

Building connected to the network are expected to see reductions in CO2 emissions of between 65% and 75% compared to gas heating. In all, this should reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 13,000 tonnes per year. 

Jeremy Bungey, Executive Director of 1Energy, says: ‘The Exeter Energy Network will deliver efficient and renewable heat to buildings across the city. It will cut carbon emissions and contribute to improvements in air quality by reducing the need for old, fossil fuel-based heating. Exeter is a centre of innovation for climate science, and we look forward to working with people across the city to deliver this project. We expect the construction of the energy centre to begin in 2025, and the network to start providing low carbon heat to our customers in 2026.’ 

Greenwich 

The Knight Dragon company Greenwich Peninsula ESCO has been awarded £4.6m to support the decarbonisation of the district heating network in the  Greenwich Peninsula in south-east London. 

This is expected to provide low-carbon heat for 2,300 existing homes and 7,115 new builds, as well as for 84,000m2 of existing commercial space and 10,400m2 of new planned commercial space in the expanding development. 

A 5MW air source heat pump installed on the roof of the existing Greenwich Peninsula Energy Centre will make this possible.  

Steve Yewman, Chief of Staff at Knight Dragon, says: ‘As part of our ESG strategy, we are committed to investing in Greenwich Peninsula to create a sustainable and resilient community that is built on principles of equity, environmental protection and economic prosperity. We want to ensure the infrastructure that underpins our development supports the lives of the people that choose to live here whilst protecting the environment. We believe this investment will make a positive environmental and social impact and are looking forward to rolling this out as part of our strategy to transition into a net zero carbon business.’ 

Hull 

There’s £22m for Vital Energi Utilities to construct the Hull East District Heat Network, which will make innovative use of waste heat from industry. The first phase of the project , expected to begin construction later in 2024, will use heat produced by Saltend Chemicals Park. 

From this, the heat network will supply low-carbon heating to 14 public sector council buildings as well as customers in industry, helping to decarbonise the area. The hope is also to secure green solar energy to help power the network and supply further businesses in Yorkshire Energy Park – the next generation energy and tech business park currently being developed. 

Mike Cooke, Managing Director of Vital Energi, says: ‘We’re delighted with the award of the Green Heat Network Funding which will allow us to deliver the Hull East Heat Network. Taking waste heat from Saltend Chemicals Park situated on the Yorkshire Energy Park, we aim to decarbonise commercial and residential buildings across Hull, bringing them closer to a net zero future with low-carbon heat and hot water.’

In related news:

£8.9m for Torry heat network in Aberdeen 

London Heatropolis is ‘blueprint’ for future heat networks 

300MW from five solar sites in England 

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