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Sewer power to heat homes and businesses and help keep bills low after government backing

Homes and businesses to benefit from greener, low-cost heating as 4 new Green Heat Network projects receive a share of £80.6 million.

  • £80.6 million to develop greener, low-cost heating systems in 4 new projects across England
  • nearly 2,000 homes and businesses to be powered by excess heat taken from a sewer
  • more than £8 million will upgrade inefficient heat networks to reduce bills and improve reliability

Nearly 2,000 homes and businesses could be heated with sewer power, as a new green heating project receives a share of £80.6 million from the government today (25 January). 

The new project, backed by £11 million from the government, will see Bolton residents keep their homes and businesses warm with waste heat from the town’s sewer. Energy will be extracted from both sewage and waste hot water from washing machines, bathrooms and kitchens to fuel a new heat pump, as part of Bolton’s first district heating network, helping to keep bills low.  

The move will provide a recycled heating source for the local community – including the University of Bolton and the Town Council – helping keep energy bills down. It is one of 4 innovative green heating projects to receive grants today from the government’s Green Heat Network Fund.  

The projects in Exeter, London and Hull will help cut carbon emissions from homes and businesses – and put the UK a step closer to reaching net zero by 2050. 

Today’s funding comes alongside more than £8 million of government investment to improve 34 inefficient heat networks. The money will enable upgrades, creating a more reliable heating supply for more than 9,000 residents, hospital patients, students and public sector workers, as well as keeping bills down. 

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:

These innovative projects will help drive down energy costs while also demonstrating why the UK has led the way in cutting carbon emissions. 

They show how energy sources can be found in the most unexpected places – as more homes and businesses will benefit from cleaner heating and lower energy bills.

Our upgrades will also make sure our existing heat networks are upgraded – so customers can get the reliable heating supply they deserve.

Other projects to receive a share of the £80.6 million from the Green Heat Network Fund include: 

  • the Exeter Energy Network, which will receive £42.5 million to build a heat network using air source heat pumps and the UK’s largest high-temperature water source heat pump. Buildings connected to the network will see an initial reduction of 65-75% in carbon emissions compared to gas heating
  • the Hull East District Heat Network, awarded £22 million to build a heat network using excess heat generated by a nearby chemicals park. The project will provide low carbon heating to 14 public sector council buildings and industrial businesses
  • the Greenwich Peninsula ESCO District Heating Network in London will receive £4.6 million to connect more than 9,000 existing and new homes, as well as over 94,000 square metres of commercial space to low-carbon heating. This cleaner energy will be powered by an air source heat pump fixed on the roof of the Greenwich Peninsula Energy Centre

Heat networks supply heating and hot water to homes and businesses via heat pumps or sources from underground, manufacturing, and waste management. They help cut carbon emissions by supplying heat to multiple buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for households and workplaces to rely on individual, energy-intensive heating solutions, such as gas boilers.    

The transition to heat networks forms a major part of the UK’s carbon reduction commitment, with heating in buildings making up 30% of all UK emissions.   

Today’s £8 million investment from the government’s Heat Network Efficiency Scheme will support vital upgrades to 34 heat network projects across England and Wales. The scheme will enable network operators to replace inefficient or old equipment to offer a more reliable service and improved heating.  

Projects to receive funding to improve heat networks include: 

  • Newport City Homes Housing Association Limited, which has been awarded £3.7 million to upgrade the Duffryn District Heating System, improving the performance of the network for more than 970 homes, a local school, and businesses. Funding will go towards replacing over 3km of pipework across the network, while also upgrading control systems and insulation
  • Bristol Heat Networks Limited, which will receive £746,582 for the Redcliffe Heat Network, with 740 residents benefitting from improvements. Funding will help replace the pipework across the network
  • the University of Plymouth, which has been awarded £243,280 to upgrade to a sustainable heating system in the Portland Square area of its campus. The funding will improve the efficiency of the network allowing fossil fuel-powered appliances to be replaced with heat pumps and electric boilers

Stephen Knight, Managing Director at Heat Trust, the national consumer protection scheme for heat network customers, said:

At Heat Trust we sadly hear of far too many examples of inefficient and poorly performing heat networks. These can result in much higher heating costs for residents, overheating corridors and frequent breakdowns.  

The steep rises in gas prices over the last few years has meant that inefficient heat networks can be very expensive for residents.  

The government’s Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) is therefore an important step in the right direction, and we welcome today’s announcement of funding.  I would urge all those responsible for running existing heat networks to consider bidding for this funding in future rounds.

Sarah Honan, Head of Policy at the Association for Decentralised Energy, said:

Today’s announcement takes us an important step closer to heat networks’ ultimate role in decarbonising the bulk of heat across the UK’s cities, towns and buildings. As we embark on the journey towards regulation, heat network zoning and the expansion of existing schemes, the ADE is very glad to see government supporting sector growth and high industry standards. 

Heat networks are a key solution in the mix of technologies that will make up the energy system of the future - not only will they be essential in decarbonising our homes and offices, factories and shops, but without them, the UK will not be able to build the truly resilient and flexible grid needed for the future.

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-energy-security-and-net-zero

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sewer-power-to-heat-homes-and-businesses-and-help-keep-bills-low-after-government-backing

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