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5th Jul, 2022

'No more hot air' as council wins grant cash for heat network

Correspondent 30th Oct, 2020

PLANS to deliver affordable low carbon energy to town centre buildings in Solihull are set to progress to the next stage thanks to the arrival of vital grant funding.

It comes after the borough council learnt it had successfully secured £6,590,500 from the government’s Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) to support plans to build a local energy network.

The grant will add to substantial funding already secured from the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Heat emissions currently account for approximately one third of Solihull’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Working with partners, the council has been developing plans to build a district heat network which will utilise low carbon and renewable energy and distribute it from a single energy centre directly into town centre buildings.

The authority has already made a commitment to make its own operations and activities carbon neutral by 2030 as well as to meet the wider regional target of net-zero emissions for the borough as a whole by 2041.

Working with the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Council is currently developing a Net Zero Action Plan to further define and deliver actions which support carbon emission reductions across the borough.

The town centre was first identified as a potential heat network location in 2016.

Solihull Council then developed a feasibility study and submitted an outline business case for the scheme earlier this year.

The latest funding, which will be released in phases, will allow the scheme to progress to the commercialisation and eventual construction phase.

Technical specialists have now been appointed and the council will be looking to proceed with a pre-planning consultation on the proposed energy centre design.

Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, portfolio holder for climate change, planning and housing, Solihull Council said: “The funding 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.”

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.

A further two phases have been identified which could see the network extended significantly in subsequent phases.

‘Heat on’ for phase one customers is expected in late 2022.

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