UK clean energy projects receive £24m to keep towns warm

New government funding to help develop clean and efficient heating systems has been awarded to 13 local authorities across England, Climate Change and Industry Minister Nick Hurd announced.

The £24 million (€28m) is spread across projects from Sheffield to Somers Town, which will soon help warm homes and businesses with low-carbon energy.

This is the first round of funding from a £320 million pot set aside to support heat networks, which have been dubbed ‘central heating for cities’ and have the potential to reduce heating costs in some cases by more than 30%.

The networks remove the need for individual properties to have their own boilers by linking them to a single heat source.

Climate Change and Industry Minister Nick Hurd said: “This government is committed to ensuring a clean, secure and affordable energy supply for communities and businesses across the country.

“Energy innovations like heat networks can cut costs for households and reduce carbon emissions, as almost half of the energy we use goes towards heating our homes and buildings.

“The £24 million in government funding awarded to these projects will help deliver low carbon energy at competitive prices for local consumers.”

‘High-quality projects’

Nine of the winning authorities will receive a share of just over £24 million of capital funding to support the building of their projects, with around £200,000 in early stage funding for a further four authorities to develop their plans. This will build a pipeline of high-quality projects ready to compete for future rounds of capital funding.

Winning entries at the building stage include four projects in London, 2 in Manchester and 1 each in Sheffield, Crawley and Colchester. Support was won at the planning stage by projects in Trafford, Islington, Buckinghamshire and Middlesbrough.

Heat networks use technologies such as biomass boilers, heat pumps, energy from waste, combined heat and power (CHP) plants and even heat from deep below the earth’s crust. They can also use recycled waste heat from places like factories, power stations and even the London Underground and pump it into homes and businesses to keep them warm.

The scheme will run over five years and is expected to enable up to 200 heat networks to be built, while leveraging around £2 billion of wider public and private investment.

Heat networks have already been used successfully in the UK, and are popular across Scandinavian cities for keeping homes warm in winter.  

According to the UK’s Department of Business and Energy Industrial Strategy, the winners of this pilot will now begin to build their projects, with further funding available over the next four years to support hundreds more. The department aims to launch the main funding scheme by the end of 2017.

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight. 

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