Piping Hot: How Colchester is Feeding the Heat of Economic Growth
Colchester: Turning up the Heat
Colchester Borough Council is set to deliver a unique pilot project in the North of the Town. In the Northern Gateway regeneration area the Council is to showcase an ‘infrastructure first’ approach to build, by installing a heat network alongside Ultrafast Fibre Broadband – providing both low carbon heat and Gigabit connectivity to this new development.
Government funding from the Heat Networks Investment Pilot (HNIP) scheme has been key to unlocking this initiative, with the North Colchester Heat Network scheme being awarded £3.5m to help deliver the Heat Network in the area, making Colchester one of only nine schemes in the UK to have been awarded funding as part of this pilot project and the only scheme to look at using a water as a heat source via a water source heat pump.
What is a Heat Network?
District Heat networks supply heat derived from a central source to a network of two or more properties through a network of pipes. This means that individual homes and business do not need to connect to their own energy supply.
Colchester’s Preferred Way Forward
The preferred option for this scheme is an open loop water source heat pump system. This system makes use of the naturally occurring groundwater within the Aquifer (the water bearing aquifer layer) which is extracted from the ground via a borehole and then heated and pumped around the system before being returned at a lower return temperature to ensure the system is run at maximum efficiency.
Benefits of the Scheme
- Reduced energy cost to customers making it an even more attractive place for business to locate to
- Enabling a reduction in fuel poverty for residents
- Delivering higher carbon reduction compared to conventional heating systems
- Opportunity to generate a small income to help offset the impact of the withdrawal of Government grants to Local Authorities
Why a Heat Network?
The UK must reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and Colchester is one of the fastest growing areas in the East.
With an expected population growth from 180,420 to 193,806 residents by 2020, without implementing low carbon projects such as this, Colchester could see a potential increase in carbon emissions of 11% by 2020 compared to current levels. The delivery of a water source heat network enables the delivery of low carbon heat to residents and businesses in the Northern Gateway area.
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