Funding approved for the first phase of Cardiff’s District-Heating Network

A new £26.5m district-heating network, which will use underground pipes to transport heat from an energy recovery facility to businesses and homes in Cardiff, has secured £15m to begin the first phase of works.

Cardiff City Heating Network will use heat generated at Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at Trident Park, which diverts approximately 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year. The plant generates enough electricity to power around 68,448 households.

Buildings that connect to the network will no longer need to use gas to heat their property, reducing energy bills and the city’s carbon emissions.

The new project – the first of its kind in Wales – has received support via a £8.6m loan from the Welsh Government and a £6m grant from the UK Government.

‘Exciting opportunity’

Cabinet Member for Clean Streets and the Environment, Cllr Michael said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Cardiff to develop a new, low-carbon, energy infrastructure, fueled by an existing facility in the city. The Heat Network is one the council’s key projects in our response to Climate Change, so this is really exciting news.

“Analysis shows that if all the heat available from the plant is fully utilised, we could save 5,600 tonnes of carbon each year and the customers signed up to the network could cut their annual energy bills by five per cent on average, while reducing their heating system’s carbon emissions by up to 80%.

“The business case shows that the first phase of the network is financially viable and I would like to thank both the Welsh Government and Central Government who have committed to backing this project with cash so first phase works can go out to tender and we can begin the build.”

The Heat Network is one the council’s key projects in our response to Climate Change, so this is really exciting news.

The first phase of the heat network will initially provide heating to a number of large buildings in the city, including County Hall (or a replacement council headquarters), the new Indoor Arena, the Millennium Centre, Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff & Vale College main building and Tresllian House.

The network could be operational within two years of installation works beginning.

Other smaller buildings, or parts of buildings will also be connected to the network, including parts of the Butetown Hub, the main entrance of Butetown Community Centre and Cardiff & Vale College’s Construction Centre.

Discussions are also underway with private developers looking to develop land within scope of the first phase of the heat network.

After the first phase of works, the network may be extended to other customers, helping the area to become more environmentally sustainable.

The heat produced by heating the non-recyclable waste at the Viridor plant at very high temperatures produces steam, which in turn powers a turbine to make electricity. By turning the facility into combined heat and power mode, some of the steam is recovered as hot water which can then be distributed via a network of highly-insulated pipes to customers’ buildings.

Cutting energy bills

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “I am very pleased to be able to announce confirmation of the funding to the first phase of the Cardiff City Heat Network.

“As we continue on our path to cutting carbon emissions across Wales, one of the key problems we have to tackle is not only making our buildings more energy efficient, but also to improve how we get our heating in the first place.

“Heat networks such as these will help home and business owners to cut down on their energy bills – but it will also help us to meet our goal of cutting Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions.”

Viridor CEO Phil Piddington said the company’s fleet of energy recovery facilities across the UK had been designed to be combined heat and power plants and he was pleased to see this potential being fully realised at Trident Park ERF. 

Viridor has developed combined heat and power plants which attach a purpose to waste which can’t be recycled

Mr Piddington said: “Viridor has developed combined heat and power plants which attach a purpose to waste which can’t be recycled because this is how we meaningfully contribute to both energy and resource efficiency in the UK. The opportunity to see the full potential of Trident Park ERF realised through this exciting project is the natural progression Viridor has been working so hard to achieve with district heating network partners.

“Cardiff residents will also have the opportunity to see waste the way Viridor sees it, as a resource and not rubbish, and we hope this encourages other cities served by energy recovery facilities to follow this innovative example.”

Key buildings which could benefit from the Heat Network in the proposed second phase have been approached by the council, but commercial terms have yet to be agreed. This phase would also be subject to a separate tender process and further financial funding.

The main heat distribution pipes for the proposed heat network will be built underground, so plans will be drawn up on how the scheme will be delivered to reduce disruption to the highway network. 

The heat network will be owned by an independent company through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the Council as a major shareholder.

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