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District-Heating Network proposed for Cardiff

A £26.5m scheme which could heat public and commercial buildings across Cardiff using energy generated by burning non-recyclable waste has been discussed at Cardiff Council’s Cabinet today.

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

The Cabinet has reviewed proposals to develop a district-heating network in parts of Cardiff Bay and the City Centre using energy from Trident Park Energy Recovery Facility. Trident Park ERF currently has contracts to burn non-recyclable wastefrom ninelocal authorities in South East Wales, including Cardiff.

An Outline Business Case has been developed to evaluate the project, based on a detailed study funded by both Central and Welsh Government.

Cabinet Member for Clean Streets and the Environment, Cllr Michael said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for Cardiff to develop new low-carbon, energy infrastructure, fuelled by existing assets and facilities in the city. Analysis that has been carried out shows the scheme has the opportunity to save 5,600 tonnes of carbon each year, with an assumption of a 5% saving on energy costs for the buildings that connect to the network.

“However, these schemes are reliant on a number of factors to make them viable. Firstly,externalfunding is required and we are working with both Central and Welsh Government to help us put the correct funding in place. Secondly, long-term contracts have to be secured to use the heat from the network and this will be essential for the scheme to progress.

“The Welsh Government has set out their aim for all the public sector to be carbon neutral by 2030. This aim is supported by Cardiff Council’s recent Capital Ambition policy document – which states that a sustainable, heat network proposal will be drawn up by the administration.”

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “Decarbonising heat is a significant challenge in delivering a low carbon economy for Wales. We are supporting a range of initiatives and have provided significant assistance to Cardiff Council to develop the project to this stage. We will continue to work in partnership with Cardiff Council with the ambition of making the project a reality”.

Viridor’s Managing Director of Major Contracts, Chris Jonas, said the company was pleased to work with Cardiff Council to maximise renewable energy and heat opportunities and achieve the Welsh Government’s environmental ambitions.

“Viridor’s view is that all waste should be given a purpose and valued as a resource, rather than rubbish. It should be put to work for Welsh businesses and communities. For Welsh residents and the business sector to see this concept being put into practice in Cardiff is a goal which is well worth pursuing.”

The Council’s Cabinet has agreed to allocate £4m towards the scheme, subject to the remaining money being secured via Central Government,Welsh Governmentand the private sector as appropriate.

An Outline Business Case has been developed to evaluate the project and Cabinet has given their support, in principle, for the scheme and to progress to the next stages of the proposal. This will include applying for grant and other funding, securing contracts with heat customers and suppliers and beginning the process to tender for a company to design, build, operate and maintain the heat network.

It is likely that the heat network would be owned by an independent company through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the Council as a major shareholder.

All heat networks need a source of heat and Cardiff has a modern Energy Recovery Facility (EFR) in the heart of the Welsh Capital.

Trident Park Energy Recovery Facility currently burns non-recyclable waste for two council partnerships: Prosiect Gwyrdd involving Caerphilly, Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire and Vale of Glamorgan Councils and the Tomorrow’s Valley Partnership involving Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen Councils. Operated and owned by Viridor, the plant currently produces 30MW of electricity, enough energy to power 50,000 homes.

When the facility was built, it was designed so that it could produce both heat and power. When heat isused in addition tothe electricity generation process – itcansignificantly increase the efficiency of the plant.

Energy from waste plants which produce both heat and power are the Welsh Government’s preferred solution for treating waste which cannot be recycled.

Commercial terms would have to be agreed with Viridor, as the plant could contribute 85% of the heat required for the heating network. Other heat sources are also available in Cardiff with opportunities from both industrial processes and water sources.

Recent studies show that the scheme could be delivered in two phases. The first phase would focus on implementing heat pipes to public buildings south of the railway line. In this phase, an ‘energy centre’ would also have to be built with top up/back up gas boilers which will be required when Trident Park ERF shuts down for maintenance. The second phase will focus on buildings north and east of the railway line.

The proposed heat network would be built underground, so the project team will draw up plans on how the scheme will be delivered to reduce disruption to the highway network.