Sewer heat to be tapped as part of new £80m scheme

Over £80m of government funding has been announced for four new Green Heat Network projects, including a Bolton scheme that will harness heat from sewers and wastewater.

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Set to be Bolton’s first district heating network, the £11m project will use a heat pump to boost heat extracted from local sewers, as well as warm water runoff from washing machines, bathrooms and kitchens. According to the government, almost 2,000 homes and businesses could benefit, including Bolton University and the Town Council.  

Elsewhere, the Exeter Energy Network will receive £42.5m to build a heat network using air source heat pumps and the UK’s largest high-temperature water source heat pump. It’s claimed that buildings connected to the network will reduce their carbon emissions by 65-75 per cent. Other projects to benefit include the Hull East District Heat Network, which has been awarded £22m, and the Greenwich Peninsula ESCO District Heating Network in London, which will receive £4.6m.

“These innovative projects…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,” Lord Callanan, minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said in a statement. “Our upgrades will also make sure our existing heat networks are upgraded – so customers can get the reliable heating supply they deserve.”

Alongside the Green Heat Network funding, £8m has been allocated to the government’s Heat Network Efficiency Scheme. This will support upgrades to 34 heat network projects across England and Wales where efficiency is suboptimal and consumers may be suffering financially as a result.

“We sadly hear of far too many examples of inefficient and poorly performing heat networks,” said Stephen Knight, managing director at Heat Trust, the national consumer protection scheme for heat network customers. “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.”