Study shows heat networks can de-carbonise heat provision to Oxford’s buildings

Published: Friday, 12th May 2017

Heat networks have strong potential to remove carbon emissions from heating Oxford’s buildings, a feasibility study has shown. The study is of Headington district and has been jointly commissioned by the City Council and the University of Oxford.

A heat network - or district heating system - provides heating and hot water to commercial and residential end users from a single, central source. The heat generated is then supplied to multiple end users through a network of pipes.

The study, which received additional funding from the Heat Network Delivery Unit at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, puts forward three heat network options for Headington. The options vary in size, complexity, expansion potential and consider a range of energy supply technologies. 

They include the 1.6km Old Road Campus & Warneford Hospital scheme connecting a new energy centre at Oxford Health NHS Warneford Hospital, adjacent buildings and the nearby University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus. Option two is the 0.7km Clive Booth Student Village scheme, while option three is the 2.8km Headington West scheme.

The latter will have the greatest number of involved stakeholders and join large loads in the west of Headington around the Oxford Brookes University and Headington School with an energy centre at Warneford Hospital.

Preferred primary energy supply plant technologies for Headington district have been identified as Biomass Heat-Only-Boilers (HOB), Biomass Combined-Heat-And-Power (CHP), and gas CHP. The majority of thermal loads connected in each option belong to the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Jo Colwell, Oxford City Council’s Environmental Sustainability Manager, said: “Across the city, a range of organisations have signed up to an ambitious carbon reduction target of 40 per cent by 2020 as part of Low Carbon Oxford. The University of Oxford continue to be outstanding partners on delivering on this target for the city and continuing to seek further emissions reductions across their estate and operations. The City Council operations are only 1 per cent of the city’s footprint so it needs proactive work with partners to explore renewable and low-carbon energy generation within parts of the city. This is part of the long term vision to bring about a sustainable city. ”