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Sheffield Town Hall and the Peace Gardens
Sheffield Town Hall and the Peace Gardens

Government invests millions in expanding city’s district heating network

7 April 2017

More than £5m from central Government is set to be invested into the city’s district heating network, bringing the potential for it to be expanded to areas such as the Sheffield Retail Quarter and the Northern General Hospital, it was announced today (Friday 7 April).

This could lead to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and improved air quality in Sheffield – at no cost to the council.

Sheffield City Council is to receive £5.73m from the Government in order to connect the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant, built on the site for the former Tinsley Towers, to the district energy network which powers public buildings across Sheffield.

This is the largest amount of money to be given to any individual project as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP).

Other councils set to benefit from a total of £24.2m in Government funding are Camden, Manchester, Westminster, Colchester, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, and Crawley.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the Environment at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is great news for Sheffield. Expanding our innovative district energy network by linking it to additional renewable and sustainable energy sources will in turn lead to lower carbon dioxide emissions, not just because people will be using renewable energy rather than gas boilers, but also because using local fuel resources minimises any emissions generated from transportation.

“The existing district energy network, powered by the Bernard Road energy recovery facility, is near to capacity. However, by expanding to include the biomass plant at Blackburn Meadows, this creates more expansion opportunities to the north and east of Sheffield, therefore creating significant opportunities to increase the reach of district heating.

“The fact that this comes at no cost to the city should also be welcomed. We at the council have worked hard with our partners to make this happen and I’d like to thank all those involved in bringing this scheme, which has real potential, through to fruition.”

The main aim of the Government programme is to support councils across the country to increase the volume of heat networks being built, deliver carbon savings, and help create the conditions necessary for a self-sustaining heat network market to develop.

Overall, the heat network projects being supported across the country provide heat to approximately 5,000 domestic customers and 50 non-domestic buildings.

Climate Change and Industry Minister, Nick Hurd, said: “This Government is committed to ensuring a clean, secure and affordable energy supply for communities and businesses across the country.

“Energy innovations like heat networks can cut costs for households and reduce carbon emissions, as almost half of the energy we use goes towards heating our homes and buildings.

“The £5.7m in Government funding awarded to this project will help deliver low carbon energy at competitive prices for local consumers in Sheffield.”

Sheffield’s bid for part of the cash pot came about as council officers considered, as part of the review of Sheffield’s waste services, how the existing district energy network could be developed.

At the same time, E.ON, which owns and operates the biomass power plant at Blackburn Meadows and a district energy network in the Lower Don Valley, was also considering the opportunities presented by the HNIP programme, and approached the city council with a view to bidding for funding together.

A proposal was then developed for a project that can deliver low-cost, low-carbon heat from the E.ON plant into the Sheffield City Council energy network, allowing that network to expand and potentially be connected to sites such as the Sheffield Retail Quarter and the Northern General Hospital in future.

All funding will come from the HNIP programme and from E.ON’s own resources, with no costs to be met by the council.

Construction could begin as early as July this year, with phase one of the scheme being completed in March 2018.

The scheme is subject to formal approval from the Council in order to draw down the funds, and signed formal agreements with E.ON.