One of Kirklees Council’s key carbon reduction projects is set to reach another milestone in its journey when presented to Cabinet Members at next month’s Cabinet Meeting.

Huddersfield District Energy Network (HDEN), also referred to as the ‘heat network’, is considered key infrastructure to help the district achieve its ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2038 – a target set by the council when it declared a Climate Emergency in 2019.

The system, which features a network of underground insulated pipes, distributes heat in the form of hot water from a centralised heat generation plant to different buildings. These buildings are then provided with space heating and hot water from the network instead of via traditional individual gas boilers.

Additionally electricity can also be delivered to buildings via a separate electricity network referred to as ‘private wire’.

The existing Energy-from-Waste (EfW) plant, located in Huddersfield, presents an ideal opportunity as a central heat and electricity generation plant, harnessing the heat already produced there for the network. A separate energy centre, proposed to be located at a nearby council owned site, would house pumps (for pumping the water around the network) and vessels to store the heat, in the form of hot water, as well as helping to smooth any demand from the network. It will also contain back-up gas boilers for providing heat during periods when the EfW is offline due to planned maintenance or unexpected outages. Back-up electricity would be provided via the national grid.

If the scheme is ultimately approved and constructed it is expected to achieve significant carbon emission savings of around 70% (when considered against typical individual gas boilers) over the lifespan of the scheme – as well as air quality improvements – through the removal of the need of natural gas-fired boiler plants at sites that would be able to connect to the network.

Heat network piping can also last over 50 years and has the ability to accommodate different sources of heat, so if an existing energy source reaches end of life, it can be removed from the system and replaced by a new source. This makes the system even more sustainable adding to its environmental credentials.  

The timing of the upcoming procurement process for the Recycling and Waste contract renewal has also been recognised as an important opportunity to the council and will play a key role in the heat network project. Work will be undertaken by relevant council officers to align these two projects to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes. Additionally other significant council-led redevelopments via the Huddersfield Blueprint and Station to Stadium schemes where possible would also connect to the network.

Councillor Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Environment and Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees said:

“District Energy Networks are recognised by central government as one on the most effective ways of decarbonising the local heat supply in urban areas.

“We recognise the challenges of a changing climate facing the district and are making changes to meet the important target of net zero in 2038 for the benefit of Kirklees residents, its wildlife, landscape and biodiversity.

“The scheme – managed by the Council’s Air Quality, Energy and Climate Change Team – would make a significant dent in the decarbonisation of Huddersfield Town Centre. And I would like to thank officers for all the work that has gone into the project to date which if fully approved will be a significant contribution in making our district greener and carbon neutral by our 2038 target.”

To progress the project to the next stage additional funding is required which the team hope to raise through a bid to the Green Heat Networks Fund (GHNF) – launched by the government in March this year. The council have previously benefitted from funding for the various stages of the project including £300k for the delivery of the outline business case from the BEIS Heat Network Delivery Unit who have since shown their written support of the scheme to progress to the next stage.

A Cabinet decision was made in February 2021 to undertake this Outline Business Case. With this now complete, decisions are required on the next phase including progressing to a full business case and how the Council can achieve successful delivery of a heat network.

If approved by Cabinet, and an anticipated successful outcome of the GHNF bid realised, officers would start work on developing the full business case. A decision will be made at the next Cabinet meeting to be held on 20 September.