Heat network could 'save carbon and boost economy'
Energy groups have heralded the potential of plans for a green district heat network in Exeter.
The scheme – a large-scale heating network providing access to low-carbon, affordable heat – is intended to help reduce fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency in the city, saving more than 10,000 tonnes of carbon per year.
A number of organisations in the city could be served by a heat network, including the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, County Hall, Matford business park, and the bus and coach station redevelopment.
A recent CBI report, The Colour of Growth, said moving to a low carbon economy could "drive significant business investment and create many new jobs" across the country. The Exeter and East Devon Low Carbon Task Force (LCTF) is working closely with councils to deliver the scheme, which would triple the efficiency of a waste energy plant currently being built at Marsh Barton.
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John Rigby, LCTF chair, said: "We want to ensure that Exeter and East Devon are at the forefront of this growth in the low carbon sector.
"The scheme has proved attractive to private investors and we are keen to get it off the ground. We have calculated it will save 10,000 tonnes of carbon per year. It offers a much more efficient system."
A heat network is already operating as part of the Cranbrook scheme.
Eventually there would be a 75km network of pipework carrying heat from a combined heat and power plant (CHP) at Skypark business park to serve itself and all of the houses in the new community of Cranbrook.
Another potential user of the scheme, Waitrose supermarket, has already provided money to enable a connection to the network.
Exeter City Council wants to deliver CHP and district heating across all of its large-scale developments in the future. Progress is being made at Monkerton where the LCTF and growth point teams have worked closely to bring forward proposals in the area.
Devon County Council has agreed that part of the site could be used to build a CHP plant linked to developments on the other side of the M5.
Councillor Rachel Sutton, the authority's lead for sustainable development and transport, said: "A district heating system is the way forward for Exeter.
"Not only does it tick all the right boxes for the environment, it also delivers economic benefits for the city and further afield."
A study of the city centre and Marsh Barton heat network is due to be completed later this month and will be reported to the city council in the spring.