Cheshire East Council is to create a new flagship company to promote eco-efficient district heating networks in the Borough.
The Council is to team up with ENGIE, a global player in the development of renewable energy generation including geothermal.
The new company will be called Cheshire Energy Networks Ltd.
When fully developed, district heating networks will help residents and businesses to benefit from cleaner, more affordable and secure energy and to realise the Council’s long-term energy framework to deliver a low-carbon economy.
District heating schemes deliver heat as hot water or steam to households through pipe networks. They are a low-carbon way of providing heat to households, replacing individual boilers.
They are particular successful in areas where there are large concentrations of people and buildings. Similar schemes have led to very positive results elsewhere in the UK and in Copenhagen, where 97 per cent of homes and businesses are heated via similar networks.
Such networks will contribute to the UK government’s carbon reduction targets agreed at the recent global climate change conference in Paris.
Councillor Rachel Bailey, the new Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “The establishment of Cheshire Energy Networks Ltd, in partnership with ENGIE, ensures that Cheshire East Council is in a strong position to secure a low-carbon future for the Borough.
“I applaud the previous work completed to get the project to this stage, which ensures Cheshire East is in the vanguard of district heating in the UK.
“We have already embarked on a programme of energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy generation.
“More and more of our residents are signing up to Fairerpower, our low-cost energy scheme, which is saving customers nearly £300 on average. This demonstrates our determination to help residents to cut fuel bills wherever possible.
“Cheshire Energy Networks is a further addition to the Council’s portfolio of energy-saving initiatives and we look forward to working with ENGIE to develop a low-cost district heating infrastructure, exploiting carbon neutral or low-carbon sources.”
Councillor Rod Menlove, chairman of Cheshire East Energy Ltd, said: “I am delighted to endorse this partnership knowing that, in the long term, it will position Cheshire East as a contributor to the country’s aims and ambitions for increasing our use of low-carbon and cleaner energy fuels.
“We all have to play our part in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and here the Council is demonstrating its commitment to a long-term strategy for exploring and developing alternative energy sources.”
Paul Rawson, divisional CEO, Energy Solutions at ENGIE, said: “ENGIE is delighted to be working alongside Cheshire East Council in the establishment of this new company to develop low carbon district heating networks.
“Such networks, based around low and zero-carbon sources of heat, can deliver real benefits for UK towns and cities, through lower energy costs, reductions in carbon emissions and less reliance on fossil fuels. This partnership utilises the breadth of expertise within ENGIE Group to help Cheshire East Council deliver strategic and transformational outcomes.”
The Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has just announced that Cheshire East Council is to be one of 24 local authorities to join in a share of a £1.5m fund to tackle carbon emissions and develop low-carbon energy projects.
District heating networks can draw on energy sources such as geothermal, biomass or solar and have the potential to supply heat to between 14 per cent and 43 per cent of UK buildings by 2050.
Cheshire East is one of six areas in the UK which has a deep geothermal belt stretching from Crewe into the Potteries, offering the potential for some 4.6 million gigawatt hours of zero-carbon and low-cost energy, more than six times the national heat demand for Britain.
The Council is working in collaboration with Keele University to research the potential for geothermal beneath the Cheshire basin, where the British Geological Society has identified a major source of geothermal energy generated by the heat of the earth’s core.