City Council wins £50,000 to continue heat network development – aimed at cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent

Published: Tuesday, 18th October 2016

The City Council has won £50,000 funding after proving that there is a commercial case for installing a heat network under the city – which could reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 20 per cent.

The City Council has been investigating the possible benefits of installing a network of pipes under city centre and Headington areas to allow buildings to share highly-efficient methods of generating heat and electricity with neighbours.

The network would see businesses in the city centre able to heat their properties from the same high-efficiency boilers and CHP (Combined Heat and Power) plant – with renewable energy and waste heat potentially playing a role too.

The hope one day is to have a large network of heat pipes running under Oxford, heating homes via high-efficient methods and potentially by utilising excess heat from big heat users, such as local industry and the research laboratories.

It is thought that installing a heat network under Oxford could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 20 per cent – or more if renewable energy technologies are deployed. This would be the single biggest contributor towards Oxford reducing its carbon emissions that the City Council has the power to achieve.

But the project would not only cut the heat wastage and carbon emissions, it could also save energy users on their bills.

The feasibility study, which mapped the heat consumption of 195 buildings around Oxford city centre and Headington, found that there is a strong carbon reduction and commercial case for installing a heat network beneath the city centre.

The £136,000 study, largely funded by the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, also found there is scope for expanding the small proposed network to take in more of the city centre.

Now the government’s Heat Network Development Unit has given the City Council a further £50,000 to build on the feasibility study and undertake a Detailed Project Development phase.

This will see a detailed business case developed, including the mapping of power, gas and sewage pipes, preliminary energy centre design, exploration of any power network upgrades required, a review the opportunity to link the city centre project to other heat networks, and project quotations.

The Detailed Project Development phase is expected to be completed in 2017. What happens after this will depend on the findings of the study.

Oxford City Council goes above and beyond to tackle climate change. Recent work has included jointly introducing the Low Emission Zone to tackle air pollution in the city centre, upgrading cycle routes across the city, installing solar PV panels on City Council buildings, winning government funding to install electric vehicle charging points in residential areas, and converting part of its fleet to low emission and electric vehicles.

Councillor John Tanner, Executive Board Member for a Clean and Green Oxford, said: “It’s excellent that the City Council has got some money back from the Government to spend on reducing Oxford’s carbon footprint.

“Sharing heat between buildings using highly insulated underground pipes makes a lot of sense. This is only a feasibility study but it could lead to big changes for Oxford.”

Download the feasibility study.