£16m in funding has been confirmed for two major heat networks to supply renewable heat to buildings in parts of South Wales.
The UK and Welsh governments will contribute a combined £15.2m in grants and loans toward the Cardiff project, led by the city council, while the Bridgend project will receive a £1.2m grant from the UK government.
An £8.6m interest-free loan from the Welsh government will provide more than half of the cash needed by Cardiff council to develop the first phase of the project, which is expected to be up and running by 2022.
The ultimate aim, says the Welsh government, is to expand the heat network into the centre of the city in future phases and to help power thousands of homes.
The Welsh government said it was a “small but important step” toward its legal requirement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 80% by 2050.
How does it work?
In the initial phase, heat network projects in Cardiff and Bridgend will transfer excess heat produced at industrial sites to public buildings in the area.
Also known as district heating, the Cardiff heat network project will use underground pipes to transport waste heat from the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility to buildings in and around the Cardiff Bay area.
The incinerator processes about 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year – producing enough electricity to power 68,448 homes.
The 11 buildings in Cardiff due to be heated in this way during the first phase include County Hall, the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff and Vale College, and the Senedd.
In Bridgend, the proposed system of distribution pipes will transfer excess heat from a combined heat and power plant and thermal storage facility.
This will then supply heat to public buildings within the town centre, with the potential to connect to new, lower carbon heat sources in the future.
Initially, the scheme will serve public sector buildings in the town centre, including the Bowls Hall, the Civic Centre offices, the Bridgend Life Centre, and a new residential development.
But like the Cardiff project, businesses and households could join the system in future phases.
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“An exciting opportunity”
Commenting on the funding confirmation for the heat networks, Welsh Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “Heat networks such as these will help home and business owners to cut their energy bills, but it will also help us to meet our goal of cutting Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions.”
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the UK government would “help heat hundreds of homes and buildings” using greener energy sources.
“It also marks another step forward for our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy and moves us closer to our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” he said.
Cardiff council said it was an “exciting opportunity”, which could save 5,600 tonnes of carbon each year.
The UK government funding is part of its Heat Networks Investment Project, a £320m fund that aims to support the construction of heat networks across England and Wales.