A pioneering renewable heating scheme, utilising ground source heat pumps, has been approved in Oxford, which its developers believe could lead to millions of homes across the UK adopting renewable energy and saving on energy costs.
The scheme is part of the £41m Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project in collaboration with social housing provider Stonewater Housing Association and heat pump specialist Kensa Contracting. Having been postponed during lockdown, the scheme has now been given the green light, and will aim to provide low-carbon heating to 60 homes in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.
The Kensa Shoebox heat pumps will displace 56 night storage heaters and four gas boilers. They will then be connected to a shared ground loop — the name given to a district heating network where at least two or more properties have an individual heat pump connected to a communal ground loop.
The system will be integrated with Switchee smart heating control and tariffs which will monitor inhabitants' use. This software will automatically shift operating times so homeowners benefit from dynamic, cheaper tariffs. This should lead to cost savings for homeowners and also reduce carbon emissions.
Councillor Tom Hayes from Oxford City Council said of the project: “I am delighted that Blackbird Leys' residents are first in line to benefit from a heat pump system that saves them money and shrinks the city’s carbon footprint.”
Rolling out the Heating Scheme
The project is the first phase of a wider scheme which will see 300 homes updated.
It will also contribute to the ESO project’s anticipated savings of 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2021; the equivalent of taking 2,000 cars off the road.
The developers also hope the cutting-edge scheme could eventually be rolled out across other UK towns and cities.
Adam Masters, sustainability project manager at Stonewater, said: “Through this project we’re demonstrating how housing providers can not only work towards a more sustainable future, but an economical one for their customers too, and we’re pleased that work at this particular housing scheme has been able to recommence.”
The Benefits of Heat Pumps
Heat pumps (both air source and ground source heat pumps) are an alternative solution to using gas or oil boilers.
They can be expensive to install, but can offer low running costs and reduce your carbon footprint.
Heat pumps are one of the eligible improvements in the Green Homes Grant, which launches in late September.
(MORE: How to Choose Heat Pumps)
Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.
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