Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

22.12.17

The future of communal heating in Cheshire

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 2018

PSE’s Josh Mines speaks to Dan Griffiths, projects and programmes manager at Cheshire East Council’s Skills & Growth Company, about how the ELENA project is set to transform heating networks in the area.

Rising prices of gas and electricity are creating fuel poverty in local areas, and giving councils another major problem to solve. Residents not being able to pay their bills to keep their houses warm and the lights switched on is a serious for local authorities, as it indirectly worsens so many other social issues; older people living in a cold environment are more likely to need help from health and social care services, for example. 

In this environment, authorities have gone about considering this topic in different ways. Liverpool City Council, and more recently Islington Council, have both set up their own energy companies in an effort to drive down prices and give residents a cheaper alternative to the ‘Big Four’ suppliers.

But in East Cheshire, authority leads are benefiting from a £1m European Investment bank fund to develop ‘smart grid’ communal energy systems. Though these schemes are not new, Cheshire East is the first non-city authority to gain funding for this type of investment, following in the footsteps of London, Bristol and Glasgow, among others, to boost energy infrastructure in the area through the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) project.

“The investment bank is keen to see local authorities take an active role in energy projects, primarily to facilitate projects to happen but also for local authorities to enter into the energy market where they can create income for themselves,” Dan Griffiths, Cheshire Easts projects and programmes manager, told me.

Projects under ELENA will construct heat networks in Crewe town centre and Macclesfield that will move away from conventional individual boiler heating and onto greener, cheaper and better heating for residents.

“Power networks tend to be covered by the big companies, and for heating we are currently focused on gas ‒ however, that is likely to change away from individual gas boilers,” Griffiths continued.

These communal district heating schemes are innovative and almost certainly the way forward for councils trying to provide more efficient, cheaper energy to communities. Put simply, they are a system for distributing heat generated in a central location for residential and commercial heating requirements across a local area, and are backed up by smart grids – electricity supply grids that use digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage.

“There’s a huge number of benefits to these systems,” Griffiths explained. “There’s potential for the authority to enable local economic ambitions through putting these networks in, and being providers of that type of economic infrastructure, so there’s benefit for the authority in creating a revenue stream that could go towards other services.”

On top of this, Griffiths also argued that the systems give local economies additional resilience for investors, something which can benefit vulnerable people in society. “If we can provide that security of supplying and that security for residents within town centres, we can help those that are more vulnerable from fuel poverty and certainly that’s another angle,” he explained. 

And as the programmes manager told me, these systems are not just the future for Cheshire, but also for the nation, especially in the context of climate change targets.

“These types of heat networks will be absolutely critical and they will provide a security of supply for both businesses and residents going forward,” he asserted.

Though Cheshire East is the first non-city authority to work towards adopting this technology, Griffiths argued that it can be delivered in other areas.

“We have demonstrated that you can do it. But it does take a fair bit of political will,” he said. “An energy framework that was adopted a few years ago and endorsed by the council showed that they were very keen on being active in the markets, and they wanted to be a proactive authority and look at issues around affordability and security of supply ‒ and the framework has been behind all this.

“But this can be done elsewhere. There’s no reason why other large towns couldn’t implement this.”

Top Image: kodda

FOR MORE INFORMATION

W: tinyurl.com/PSE-Skills-and-Growth

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Benefits of blockchain

23/07/2018Benefits of blockchain

Jonny Voon, innovation lead for Internet of Things & distributed ledger at Innovate UK, talks us through the many benefits of blockchain tech... more >
Industrial strategies: taking back control

23/07/2018Industrial strategies: taking back control

The ‘place-based’ focus of the Industrial Strategy will be a significant step towards growing local economies alongside LEPs, writes ... more >
Keeping it simple

23/07/2018Keeping it simple

Jason Waterman, deputy director of disputes & policy implementation at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), describes the benefits of the stre... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Banks sued by 15 major councils in controversial loans fraud court battle

17/07/2018Banks sued by 15 major councils in controversial loans fraud court battle

Barclays is facing a legal battle over the issuing of controversial loans worth millions of pounds to major English councils. A High Court claim revealed by the Mail on Sunday found that 14 ... more >
Business case on the way for Nottinghamshire ‘super council’

13/07/2018Business case on the way for Nottinghamshire ‘super council’

Nottinghamshire has decided to proceed with a formal business case setting out plans to replace the current two-tier system in the region with a unitary authority after a vote was passed in yeste... more >

the raven's daily blog

One step closer to voter IDs at elections

19/07/2018One step closer to voter IDs at elections

Chloe Smith MP, Minister for the Constitution, evaluates the outcomes of the voter ID pilots conducted at the last local elections. We are one step closer to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system through requiring electors to confirm their identity before they vote, building on the government’s commitment to safeguard ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Benefits of blockchain

23/07/2018Benefits of blockchain

Jonny Voon, innovation lead for Internet of Things & distributed ledger at Innovate UK, talks us through the many benefits of blockchain tech... more >
Industrial strategies: taking back control

23/07/2018Industrial strategies: taking back control

The ‘place-based’ focus of the Industrial Strategy will be a significant step towards growing local economies alongside LEPs, writes ... more >
Keeping it simple

23/07/2018Keeping it simple

Jason Waterman, deputy director of disputes & policy implementation at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), describes the benefits of the stre... more >
Mind the skills gap

23/07/2018Mind the skills gap

Kathleen Henehan, research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, examines the intergenerational and international skills gap faced by ... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

View all News