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Funding boost for low carbon heating
More efficient, resilient and cost effective is how public sector partners are describing ambitious plans for new district-scale heating networks for parts of Exeter and Teignbridge.
Plans for two new district heating networks have received a boost as the Government announces £184,250 funding to help get the projects off the ground.
Devon County, Exeter City and Teignbridge District Councils, the University of Exeter and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust – partners in the District Heating Project Group - have welcomed the announcement, saying that the funds will kick-start the pioneering approach to domestic and commercial heat generation, financed by a private sector partner.
Heat networks supply heat in the form of hot water to a number of buildings through a system of insulated pipes. They can capture heat that might otherwise be wasted to heat homes and businesses as well as having their own energy centre.
The technology, used more commonly abroad, has so far been used for new buildings in the Cranbrook and Skypark developments. But feasibility studies have shown the potential to retro-fit the technology to existing properties.
Under new plans, properties in central Exeter including the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital site, and a major new housing and commercial development south west of Exeter into Teignbridge, are to benefit from the technology.
The potential to use heat from the Energy from Waste plant in the city, which will be operational this summer, forms part of the work.
The announcement means that the District Heating Project Group can now begin a process to find a private sector partner to form a public/private sector Energy Supply Company to take the project forward. And they can procure necessary legal and technical advice.
As part of the funding, councils will be given commercial and technical support and guidance, including assistance in developing robust business plans to help attract commercial investment.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: "This is a tremendously exciting project, and the first time that such technology, which will potentially reduce consumers' energy costs as well as provide greater efficiency, has been used retrospectively to serve existing housing stock and public sector buildings in the city, as well as the major new development in Teignbridge."
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for City Development at Exeter City Council, said: "This funding award demonstrates confidence in the proposals for a district energy network for the city and will help put in place the capacity to deliver local solutions for competitively priced low carbon energy in Exeter.
"We are pleased to be working in partnership with the University, the RD&E Hospital, Devon County Council and Teignbridge District Council to deliver this network and attract investment to the city.”
Cllr Kevin Lake, Teignbridge District Council's Executive Spokesperson for Environmental Services, said: "We welcome this funding boost. As part of the District Heating Group, Teignbridge is working with all its partners to build up a greater understanding about how district energy networks can benefit residents and businesses through reduced energy costs and carbon efficiencies.
"Teignbridge is always looking at ways to save energy and reduce carbon emissions - which directly benefits residents with reduced bills and helps the environment - so this is great boost and will go a long way in developing the project."
Luke Mitchell, from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, said: “This is great news for Devon’s low carbon economy and the RD&E’s long term vision of developing sustainable energy solutions.”
Hugh McCann, Director of Estate Development at the University said: “This significant funding boost is extremely welcome, and will offer valuable support to this vital region-wide project to introduce a heat network project in the heart of Devon which will not only benefit the local communities, but also the environment as well.”
According to the Government, an estimated 15 per cent of UK heat demand could be cost effectively met by heat networks by 2030 and around 40 per cent by 2050.