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UK Government invests share of £65m to warm homes using waste heat from data centres in UK first

Written by Mon 6 Nov 2023

In a UK first, the Government is set to invest a share of £65 million ($80 million) to warm homes using waste heat from data centres.

The heat network will connect 10,000 new homes and 250,000m2 of commercial space to a low-carbon energy source. The investment aims to help keep bills low and contribute to the UK’s goal to reach net zero by 2050.

“We are investing in the technologies of the future so that families across the country will now be able to warm their homes with low-carbon, recycled heat – while creating thousands of new skilled jobs,” said Claire Coutinho, Energy Security Secretary.

Heat networks deliver heating and hot water to properties using heat pumps and various sources, including underground, manufacturing, and waste management. They cut carbon emissions by centralising heat supply to multiple buildings, eliminating the need for individual energy-intensive heating solutions like gas boilers.

“Keeping homes warm with waste heat from technology is a glimpse into the future and demonstrates just how innovative this country can be when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions,” said Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance.

The first area to implement the initiative is the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). It is located in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent, and Ealing.

“Recycling the huge amounts of wasted heat from our local data centres into heat and energy for local residents, a major hospital, and other users is an exciting and innovative example of OPDC’s support for the mayor’s net zero ambitions,” said David Lunts, Chief Executive at the OPDC.

In a similar move, state-owned energy company Fortum announced last year a deal with Microsoft to utilise waste heat from two new data centres for heating homes and businesses in Helsinki. This plan aimed to enhance the environmental impact of the new construction and assist Microsoft in reducing carbon emissions.

UK Announces More Green Heating Projects

The funds are a component of a larger £65 million ($80 million) investment in green heating projects across London, Watford, Suffolk, and Lancaster. The Green Heat Networks Fund is the source of this investment.

Today’s round of funding comes on top of £122 million already awarded to support 11 new heat network projects across the country, under the government’s Green Heat Network Fund.

Lancaster University will receive £21 million ($26 million) to fully decarbonise its campus with a low-carbon energy centre. The centre will use air source heat pumps, thermal storage, and electrical infrastructure works.

“Heat decarbonisation in buildings is a huge challenge, and one that is often fundamentally misunderstood – heat networks are the only internationally proven route for decarbonising heat at scale, yet most people don’t know what they are,” said Matthew Basnett, Heat Network Policy Lead at the Association for Decentralised Energy.

The London Borough of Brent will also receive nearly £5.2 million ($6.4 million) for the South Kilburn District Heat Network. This project aims to deliver heat to 34 locations using a combination of air-source heat pumps and backup gas boilers. A 2.79-kilometer pipeline network will distribute the heat, and it is expected to benefit 2,900 users.

Watford Community Housing is set to gain £1.8 million ($2.2 million) to replace an old gas district heating system with ground source and air source heat pumps. This will provide heat to 252 apartments across six blocks.

A new heat pump housing estate in Chilton Woods in Suffolk has received £745,000 ($925,948) to provide 1,000 homes and a primary school with low-carbon heating. The project also includes a thermal store where any excess energy generated from the system will be fed into the wider National Grid.

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Written by Mon 6 Nov 2023

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