The Rise of Low Carbon Heating Networks

£15 million has been secured for a district heating network connected to an energy recovery facility in Cardiff. The government-backed project could transform Cardiff’s energy infrastructure, saving more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon a year.

By Evelyn Chapman

As more cities across the UK adopt sustainable energy solutions, low carbon heating networks will become an especially significant piece of the net zero puzzle.

How our waste can heat our homes

Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs) produce power through the combustion of non-recyclable waste. The process is similar to that of a biomass plant, where water is heated by burning matter to create steam which turns a turbine connected to a generator. The electricity can then run onto the National Grid or a local heating network. These facilities reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill, decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, and generate enough energy to power thousands of homes.

Viridor’s ERF at Trident Park, which will feed onto the Cardiff City Heating Network, diverts around 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year. It also generates enough electricity to power around 68,448 homes. In a couple of years when the network is predicted to be operational, it will also provide low carbon heat to homes and businesses, reducing energy bills by up to 5% on average.

A Low Carbon Future

Cardiff could be a useful test-case for other UK cities. If fully optimised, this project has the potential to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 5,600 tonnes each year.

It’s clear that low carbon heating will play an integral part in reaching the UK’s net zero carbon goals by 2050. At the moment, less than 5% of the energy used for heating in the UK comes from low carbon sources. Whilst buildings being made more efficient is essential, the source of energy overall must also be cleaner, and this seems to be the growing consensus. Earlier this year the government allocated £40 million to establish several low carbon heating networks in cities across the UK.

This holistic approach to energy generation is seeing a rise in popularity in the UK. In 10 or 20 years it may be hard to imagine a time when every aspect of our energy landscape wasn’t flexible, efficient, and balanced. Not only is it essential for the fight against climate change, but it’s also a clear path towards economic stability. Finding low carbon or renewables sources for our heat and electricity will be more cost-efficient and lessen our reliance on imported oil and gas.

Every home makes a difference

Households contribute about 40% of the UK’s emissions, with each homes’ gas central heating system contributing about 2.25 tonnes annually. This means that every heating network, however small, makes a significant difference in our carbon footprint.

With years of experience in heat networks, we at Welcome Energy understand that increased transparency surrounding billing will become more important than ever. As energy systems become more flexible, our remote monitoring and data capture will be essential to ensure accuracy and consistency. Learn more about our metering and billing services