Heat and hot water at a new housing development in the Highlands will be provided by an innovative community biomass scheme, after the local council approved the project. The 24 two and three bedroom family houses being built at Milton Burn, in the heart of the town of Aviemore, will be heated by a single biomass heating network powered by two 70 kilowatt biomass systems.
A 66-hectare site overlooking the River Tyne, which is the site of the largest single housing-led regeneration scheme in the North of England is to be powered by a combined heat and power – district heating system. The New Tyne West Development Company – a joint partnership between Newcastle City Council and developers Barratt Homes and Keepmoat – will install the system which will eventually supply all 1,800 homes at The Rise.
A feasibility study to look into developing “innovative heat networks’’ using heat extracted from disused coal mines in the Kells area of Whitehaven, has been awarded a grant of £123,470 by the Department of Energy and Climate Change following a bid by Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC). Lee Carr, low carbon energy development manager at BEC, says: “This funding award is a major step in bringing innovative heat networks to West Cumbria and the potential for cheaper, low carbon and locally-produced energy for hundreds – if not thousands – of homeowners and businesses. It marks the culmination of a lot of hard work stemming from the publication of BEC’s Energy Compass strategy through to the writing of this successful bid.”
Local authorities could play a key role in creating a mass market for renewable heat technologies, suggested Andrew Cooper, a Green party councillor for Kirklees. As councils have large amounts of housing stock, they could move the renewable heat market forward quickly if they invested in the technology. Social housing could “get the market moving for the private sector”, he said, but political leadership was required to overcome the risk-averse nature of local authorities. Alan Simpson, adviser to Friends of the Earth and a former MP, said the UK had to look at emulating the German model for financing and installing these technologies. “Success in Germany is driven around prompt delivery, de-complicating the process and de-risking it,” he said. The Germans are driving a growing economy on reduced energy consumption, but the delivery vehicles are de-centralised, he said.
The government has allocated £2.1m for renewable heat network projects across England and Wales to help local councils recycle excess heat from industry. Twenty-four local authorities, including Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle city councils, will receive a share of the funding designed to slash carbon emissions from the UK’s domestic heat sector. Climate Change Minister Greg Barker confirmed the latest funding round for councils, including awards to Bath and North East Somerset, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, as well as Cornwall and Devon. Westminster City Council, Camden, Hackney and Merton London Boroughs will also receive a share of the funds. The money will be used to create heat networks that can transport heat recovered from industry or from waste to energy projects to provide heat and hot water to local homes and business.
Boreholes up to two miles (3.2km) deep will be drilled in Manchester to use a thermal spring to heat homes. Proposals by GT Energy for the exploratory drilling in the Ardwick area have been approved by the council. If the two boreholes are successful, further plans will be submitted to create a network of underground pipes taking heat to houses. GT Energy says it will reduce energy costs for 6,000 homes and businesses. The initial boreholes will be installed at the junction of Devonshire Street and Coverdale Crescent.
Sunamp, a company based in East Lothian, is developing compact heat storage in heat batteries. These batteries will allow the intermittent output from renewable heat technologies such as Solar Thermal Panels, Heat Pumps, Biomass Boilers or supplies of waste heat to provide an output of heat when the user needs it. The company is currently carrying out a trial in seven houses owned by Berwickshire Housing Association. Tenants who are off the gas grid and who had their heating system converted from electric storage radiators to air source heat pumps had found their financial savings were only modest as a result of no longer being able to use off peak electricity. However, by using a heat battery in conjunction with an air source heat pump it is hoped that tenants can resume the use of cheaper off peak electricity, and thus boost savings.
The University Cumbria in Penrith decided to install a 300kW biomass boiler for its student accommodation at Newton Rigg. The project comprises of a series of detached residential blocks, which are connected by a district heating network of underground pipes from the energy centre. The scheme is expected to burn around 300 tons of wood a year. The capital cost of the scheme is expected to be £300,000, but fuel savings will be £40,000 per year.