Bristol City commits £5m to heat network, eyes bigger prize

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees backs the city's low carbon transition
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees backs the city’s low carbon transition

Bristol City Council will allocate of £5m in capital to fund the next phase of its district heating network. Mayor Marvin Rees approved the funding this week.

The council wants the city to become carbon neutral by 2050. It also wants residents to gain from its investment. Bristol has already launched a local energy company and has earmarked tens of millions of pounds to invest in local generation. As a municipal energy company, it can also sign power purchase agreements with local developers. That keeps the value in the local economy and should enable the city to keep energy prices low.

In the longer term, the city may look to invest in local distribution networks to play some form of demand balancing role, although current market rules may require a different structure to operate both local grids and a supply company should it pursue that avenue.

The heat network will take its heat from gas CHP and biomass plants around the city. Bristol intends to replace the gas fuel sources with renewables over time.

The first phase of the network has already been installed with 18 social housing blocks connected last year.

New biomass-fuelled heat centres were installed and connected to social housing blocks in 2015-16. Five blocks in Hartcliffe were connected to a 360kW wood pellet boiler supplying over 300 flats with low carbon heat and 13 blocks in Redcliffe.

By mandating that all new developments in the city’s heat priority areas must connect to the heat network unless it is technically unviable to do so, the council hopes to drive uptake of the scheme.

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