Gateshead Council has been awarded a £5.9m grant to double the size of its heat network in Gateshead town centre.
The funding from the Heat Networks Investment Project will enable the council-owned Gateshead Energy Company to install 5.5km of new heating pipes. This will supply a further 12 Gigawatt hours of heat to up to 1,250 new private homes, a care home, Gateshead International Stadium and other Council-owned buildings in Felling.
Underground mine workings
The funding will also help to install a 6MW water source heat pump, which will extract heat from the water in underground mine workings some 150 metres beneath Gateshead town centre. The council is working closely with experts from the Coal Authority who manage all the disused mine workings under Gateshead to ensure the success of the project.
The new homes to be connected to the proposed new district energy scheme extension are within the Exemplar Neighbourhood, Gateshead’s largest new-build housing development site. This includes the former Freight Depot site of 300 homes next to the Felling bypass which is currently being assessed by Gateshead Council’s planning department.
Gateshead Energy Company, which is wholly owned by Gateshead Council, operates the Gateshead District Energy Scheme which already supplies hundreds of homes and businesses in Gateshead town centre with low-cost, low-carbon heat and power.
Climate change goals for Gateshead Council
Councillor John McElroy, Gateshead Council cabinet member with responsibility for energy, said: “The council has always seen the development of low-carbon energy as key to meeting our climate change goals, but also in generating lower-cost energy for residents and organisations in Gateshead. This grant allows us to take this one step further.
“This new proposal uses a source of energy that is already under our feet, but which is virtually unused. Thanks to the continued development of heat pump technology, we are at last able to properly exploit this abundant untapped heat source and use it to warm thousands of homes and businesses in Gateshead.
“We have been looking at this proposal for some considerable time, so the award of this grant is timely and its means we can now begin to bring it to fruition.
“There must be hundreds of miles of abandoned mine workings beneath Gateshead and many of them are flooded providing access to a sustainable source of heat, so there is huge scope for more initiatives like this.
“It is particularly satisfying that we can exploit the forgotten remains of an old industry – and a heavily polluting one at that – to create clean green energy.”