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Birmingham’s heat network set to go greener
Oct
29

Birmingham’s heat network set to go greener

The recent announcement that some of Birmingham’s key low carbon energy projects have been awarded £1.1m funding from Innovate UK is fantastic news for the city’s green ambitions.

The ITHECA (Intelligent Transport, Heat & Energy Control Agent) project brings together the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) and Aston Business School at Aston University with Cofely District Energy, Cenex Ltd and Open Energi to explore methods of reducing the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels by optimising the efficiency of district heating networks. The initiative, a first of its kind, will see EBRI’s bioenergy plant connected to an existing CHP network, with new intelligent control technologies fitted and a new fleet of electric vehicles powered from bioenergy.

Birmingham is already leading the way on district heating with multiple networks, established over the past 7 years through Birmingham District Energy Company (BDEC), a partnership between Cofely District Energy and Birmingham City Council. The existing networks provide low carbon and low cost heat and electricity to key buildings including Aston University, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Council House amongst others. A network link is currently being completed across the city centre which brings Birmingham New Street Station and Network Rail into the scheme to create one of the largest single networks in the UK and reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by 15,600 tonnes per year.

The funding announcement comes as Birmingham’s Green Commission looks to accelerate its efforts to deliver the ambitions of its Carbon Roadmap, published in November 2013. The Commission – chaired by Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for a Green, Smart and Sustainable City – and its Roadmap is aiming to make Birmingham a leading green city and reduce its total carbon emissions by 60% by 2027.

Councillor Trickett praised the project, saying: ”It’s great to see these organisations working together and contributing to Birmingham’s, and the UK’s, decarbonisation efforts. This is a great example of how our academic and research institutions can work with other experts and the private sector, to maximise the potential of our existing projects and work across different themes of energy and transport. It is a fantastic early success for the delivery of our Carbon Roadmap.”

These developments in the city centre come in addition to funding of £120,600 that Birmingham City Council was awarded by DECC’s Heat Network Delivery Unit last year to develop a comprehensive understanding of potential heat networks across the whole of the city.

More information about the ITHECA project.

More information about Birmingham’s Green Commission.

Words by Richard Rees, Strategic Energy Officer
Birmingham City Council, UK