Seaside town plans heat network to offer every building green heating by 2050

A seaside town’s council has launched a project to roll out a heat network that will offer climate-friendly heating to all its homes and buildings by 2050.

The scheme in Worthing, West Sussex, will see up to £500 million of investment by heat network investor, developer and operator Hemiko, the company said.

Worthing Borough Council identified a heat network as the cheapest and most efficient way to decarbonise the town’s buildings, and brought Hemiko in to fund, deliver and operate the project.

Heat networks use a centralised source of heat – anything from a large heat pump drawing energy from water or air to waste heat from a data centre – and pipe it to nearby buildings where it is used to heat rooms and water.

How Worthing energy centre will look (Hemiko/PA)
How Worthing energy centre will look (Hemiko/PA)

It is expected up to a fifth of homes could be heated through heat networks by 2050, as the country shifts away from polluting gas boilers to meet climate targets.

The Worthing heat network will initially use three large air source heat pumps in an energy centre located by the High Street multistorey car park, to supply heating to large public sector buildings, while over time it will bring on more sources of locally available wasted heat.

Construction will start in July and the first buildings are set to be connected by summer 2025, including Worthing Town Hall, Worthing Hospital, the Assembly Hall, Portland House, Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, and the Connaught Theatre, the project’s backers said.

While initially the focus will be on non-domestic buildings and new-build homes, it is expected connection to the heat network for existing homes will come in the next five to 10 years, as heat supplied by the network becomes increasingly cost competitive.

The first phase of Worthing heat network received more than £7 million funding from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero which unlocked £40 million of investment from Hemiko, the company said.

Sophie Cox, Worthing’s cabinet member for climate emergency, said: “The Worthing heat network is an exciting development in our transition to low carbon heating and an important milestone in our mission to be a carbon neutral council by 2030 and a net-zero borough by 2045.

“I’m really looking forward to the council working alongside Hemiko on the next stages of the project and bringing low carbon heating to the residents and business of Worthing.”

Toby Heysham, chief executive at Hemiko, said the network “will be an invaluable piece of infrastructure for the local community, not only because it will cut the town’s emissions significantly and improve public health, but it will also offer jobs, apprenticeships, and a hub for innovation and investment into the town.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “Ambitious projects like this in Worthing are why the UK is a world leader when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

“We awarded over £7 million to Worthing Borough Council to help get the project off the ground, and I’m pleased to see they now have a partner in Hemiko to deliver a scheme that will benefit the whole town by delivering cheaper energy bills and lower carbon emissions.”

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