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Gateshead Council has started construction on two more major energy schemes, thanks to securing £5.4m in European grants.
The two schemes will see a further 600 homes, and several public buildings connected to district energy networks, to provide low-cost, low-carbon heat and power for residents and buildings alike.
The grant funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and is specifically for investing in low carbon projects.
The first scheme is called Gateshead HEIGHTs – which stands for High Rise Energy Infrastructure for Gateshead Housing Tenants (HEIGHTs). The project will install new district heating and/or power systems to seven high rise housing blocks in the town centre and in the Harlow Green and Allerdene areas of Gateshead.
Four of the blocks are to be heated from ground source heat pumps, which will extract the heat from over 200 boreholes and pipe this into homes.
Two of the blocks will be heated by waste heat from a small electricity generation plant, with the homes also receiving the electricity generated.
One block will be connected to the existing Gateshead town centre District Energy Scheme.
The HEIGHTs scheme forms part of a wider £20m investment programme that Gateshead Council is funding, which will also see the blocks receive major refurbishment, including window and roof replacement.
The council has appointed Wilmott Dixon Construction to deliver the scheme, which is due to be completed by December 2018.
The second scheme involves installing a new type of plastic district heating pipe, which is new to the UK, but is hoped to make installation of heating pipes quicker, simpler and cheaper.
The plastic pipes are being used to extend the Gateshead District Energy scheme up to Gateshead Leisure Centre and surrounding public buildings, which includes Gateshead Central Library and Shipley Art Gallery.
Alongside this £2.5m heat extension, the council plans to also extend its private electricity network, to increase the number of buildings that can tap into this lower cost, lower carbon electricity as well.
While these represent significant investment, like the council’s other energy scheme, it aims to fully recover its costs, from reduced energy bills, or energy sales to customers.
Balfour Beatty, which has recently completed construction of the Gateshead Energy Centre, has been appointed to install the energy network extension.
Cllr John McElroy, Gateshead Council Cabinet member for Economy said: “The council sees the development of a low-carbon energy resource as key to meeting our climate change goals, but also in generating lower-cost energy for residents and organisations in Gateshead.
“These two new schemes – Gateshead HEIGHTs and the innovative new plastic pipe network – are among key developments in supporting these ambitions, that will both cut carbon emissions and energy use, as well as generating real savings per year for customers”
Craig McGilvray, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Gas and Water business, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by Gateshead Council, through the Scape Procure framework, to install the innovative energy network extension.
“Working in collaboration with Gateshead Council, we look forward to using our proven capabilities to deliver cost effective heat networks across the UK, providing local communities with long term improved access to lower carbon, secure and affordable heating.”
Willmott Dixon’s operations director in North East, Nick Corrigan, says, “We are delighted to be back in Gateshead carrying out important work that will reduce the cost of energy for local residents. Being based in Gateshead, we are proud of our local track-record and look forward to starting on site to deliver the HEIGHTs and fabric project, which will have a lasting positive impact on the lives of so many people by helping to tackle fuel poverty and creating warmer, more sustainable places to live.”
This project is being supported by a grant from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.