Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has secured funding worth more than £6.5 million to support the development of a low carbon energy network.
Solihull Town Centre was first identified as a potential heat network location in a 2016 Heat Mapping Report, largely due to the density of heat demand loads located near the council offices and the significant scale of new residential and commercial units to be brought forward in the town centre’s plan.
An open-loop ground source heat pump (GSHP) was approved as the preferred option in January 2019.
The first phase will connect nine existing buildings, including four education campus sites with multiple plant room connections and one commercial development on council-owned land.
Emissions from heat account for around one-third of Solihull’s total greenhouse gas emissions – approximately 400,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent emissions.
The Solihull Town Centre Low Carbon Energy Network expects to achieve carbon savings of more than 280,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent once fully built.
The first phase of the scheme is expected to come online in late 2022.
Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Innovative projects like this one in Solihull are helping the UK lead the way in driving down carbon emissions and it’s great to see governments of all levels and local communities working together.
“The government’s Heat Network Investment Project is allowing us to drive forward new low carbon technologies as we build back greener and work towards net zero emissions by 2050.”
The council is also working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to develop a Net Zero Action Plan as part of its wider Low Carbon Energy Framework to further define, prioritise and deliver actions which support carbon reductions across the borough.
Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Planning & Housing, Solihull Council added: “As a council we have committed ourselves to taking the necessary local action to tackle the climate change emergency. Through our ambitious Net Zero Action Plan we are developing a strategic approach to the challenge of decarbonising the borough over the next twenty years.
“The funding announced today is fantastic news for Solihull as innovative schemes like this will have a significant role to play in helping us to achieve our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2041. We know that decarbonising heating for schools, homes, offices and other business uses can be prohibitively expensive for building operators on an individual level.
“However, a central town centre energy network provides a unique opportunity for existing buildings and new developments to benefit from low carbon heat generation. This scheme will help us to reduce the borough’s greenhouse gas emissions while providing customers with a highly efficient and affordable heat supply.”