The genteel West Sussex community of Worthing is set to benefit from its first ever heat network serving its population, currently at 111,000 people.

Under plans approved by Worthing Borough planners, heat network developer and operator Hemiko – the rebranded Pinnacle Power – will begin construction this July on its £500 million piped heat project.    £7 million of that funding comes from the national government’s Heat Networks Investment Project.

Expected to be operational by summer 2025, the network’s first stage will link Worthing’s Town Hall, hospital, Assembly Hall, museum, its Connaught Theatre and Portland House.  A connection to every building in the town is earmarked for 2050. By then 500 new local jobs are expected, 40 of them created in the project’s first five years.

The scheme’s backers calculate that first phase will save more than 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the roads.

Worthing’s layout puts it, according the Office of National Statistics, in the top fifth of most densely populated English local authorities, thus favouring a network’s efficiency and ease of reach.

Figures from the 2021 census reveal the town’s population as both growing and ageing.  The last count showed total inhabitants rising by 6.4% since 2011, with 42.9% of Worthingtonians aged 50 and over, up from 39% a decade earlier. The town’s median age of 44 years is now four years older than England’s average of 40 years old.

The Worthing Heat Network was identified in 2019 in the borough’s Carbon Neutral Plan as the most economic and efficient way to decarbonise Worthing’s Civic Quarter.

Connected buildings will in consequence be able cut carbon emissions related to heating by as much as 90%.  The net’s initial driver will be air sourced heat pumps located at the network Energy Centre. More sources of locally available, unused heat will be brought in over time.

Developer Hemiko is planning to roll out £1billion of networks nationwide this decade.  It says Worthing is already its fourth project in West Sussex alone.

CEO Toby Heysham said the project follows two recent projects in south London.

“We’re incredibly proud to have been selected as the borough’s partner. Worthing Heat Network be an invaluable piece of infrastructure for the local community, not only because it will improve public health, but it will also offer jobs, apprenticeships, and a hub for innovation and investment into the town.

Law firm Burges Salmon advised the borough on design & ownership of the planned network.  In March it published its optimistic assessment of heat networks’ potential to speed Britain towards Net Zero.

From the firm’s Clean Heat practice, director Emma Andrews said Worthing highlighted the huge opportunities which district heating networks present in allowing local communities to access greener heat on a town-wide scale.

Wilde about being earnest 

“Our experience in clean heat and energy regulation means we’re well positioned to advise project sponsors, investors, and developers across both the public and private sectors”, Andrews added.

For the government, energy minister Lord Callanan said: “Ambitious projects like Worthing’s are why the UK is a world leader in reducing emissions.

“We awarded over £7 million to Worthing Borough Council to help get the project off the ground”, the minister went on.  “I’m pleased to see they now have a partner in Hemiko to deliver a scheme that will benefit the whole town by delivering cheaper energy bills and lower carbon emissions. We have invested more than £500 million since 2019 to transform this sector.”


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