Heat from under our feet could see Worthing lead way on pioneering energy network

Released: Monday, 04 October 2021

Investigations in the sewers below Worthing have discovered enough heat to power a pioneering new energy network, a report says.

The discovery is the latest stage of ambitious plans by Worthing Borough Council to link public sector buildings in the borough to an environmentally-friendly heat source thus replacing gas boilers and reducing carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent.

The Council has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 and gas consumed in its buildings makes up one third of emissions.

Called the Worthing Heat Network (WHN) the scheme will link up 27 buildings including the Town Hall, library, hospital, leisure centres, law courts, police building and possibly even schools.

In an update on WHN, a report to the Council’s Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) says investigation of the sewers under the town has revealed that they contain more than enough heat to replace gas boilers in public buildings. A centralised heat pump will be used to turn heat from the wastewater in the sewer into usable heat for buildings..

The report says the Council has been successful in obtaining more than £5m from the government’s Heat Networks Investment Programme (HNIP) for preparatory work, initial construction and to secure a partner to part-finance, design, build, own and operate the entire network. Later stages could see the network extended to more premises across the borough.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has identified the Worthing project as a pathfinder which could be used by local authorities across the country, working with partners, to remove the reliance of buildings on gas heating and thus help slash carbon emissions which are the main cause of global warming.

Cllr Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services,  said:

"This report says that we are serious about our own target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 but more than that it says that, together with partners, we are prepared to adopt pioneering new methods to do so.

"The prospect of heating huge swathes of the town using the heat that is literally beneath our feet while phasing out environmentally harmful gas boilers, is a simple but wonderful piece of science that, if adopted around the world, could help save the planet.

"I’m extremely grateful to HNIP for showing faith in our scheme with this funding."

The average temperature of wastewater in sewers is 15 degrees and energy from this can be captured by sophisticated heat pumps to create sustainable, low carbon heat.

The JSC report envisages the timetable for preparing tender documents, bringing construction partners on board and the work itself could lead to the WHN producing its first heat in late 2024 early 2025.

The Council itself is responsible for one percent of the total emissions from the borough so is reaching out to partners in the public and private sector to work collaboratively on a range of projects aimed at tackling climate change.

Photo: Worthing Town Hall

PR21-139 - Worthing Town Hall

(PR21-139)

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Page last updated: 22 October 2021

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