An innovative infrastructure project to deliver low-carbon heat and electrical power for Peterborough businesses and public buildings has been approved by Government.

The PIRI (Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure) project is one of the first national schemes to receive support from the Green Heat Network Fund, which was announced on December 20.

Once complete, it will transport heat and electrical power from the council-owned Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Fengate (operated by Viridor) direct to the city buildings via a series of underground pipes and cables.

The ERF generates its own energy by taking non-recyclable household waste that would otherwise go into landfill and using a combustion process turns it into heat and electricity.

PIRI will be delivered in two phases –  phase one will create the underground pipework and cables needed to deliver heat and power and phase two will deliver heat to the buildings concerned.

The buildings were chosen as they are large energy consumers with the anticipation that when complete the project will reduce the carbon consumption of these buildings by as much as 92 per cent.

A total of £14.5 million of funding has been given to the scheme by the Government. Of this, just over £900,000 will pay for further project work to prove the effectiveness of the scheme in order to secure inward investment. A further £13.5 million has been pledged to help pay for the construction costs.

It is expected that the total construction costs for the project will be around £53 million with the remaining money expected to come from inward investment.

Once complete, there is potential for expansion to other businesses and eventually homes across Peterborough.

Elliot Smith, commercial manager at Peterborough City Council, said: “This is an innovative project which could deliver huge carbon savings, helping Peterborough to become a carbon-zero city. There’s still a long way to go until its completion, but the concept has been proven as effective and it takes only a little imagination to see that in the future it could be scaled up to provide heat to many more businesses, public buildings and homes across the entire city.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Peterborough is ready for a project of this size and thanks to this Government funding we will be well on the way to becoming one of the first carbon-zero cities of the future. It is yet another significant indicator of the confidence that the Government has in our city’s growth and its importance on the national stage.”

Ken Hunnisett from Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management said: “It’s a joy to reflect that the first awards from this exciting new fund are being made to progressive city councils at the start of their own respective journeys to the city-wide decarbonisation of their heating infrastructure.

“It will be a real pleasure to work with the team at Peterborough to see how these networks commercialise and develop through the life of the Green Heat Network Fund”

Dr Nik Johnson, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “This is a hugely exciting project for Peterborough with the capabilities to greatly reduce carbon consumption and make huge steps towards Peterborough City becoming net zero by 2030. In line with recommendations from the Independent Commission on Climate, to effectively manage climate risk for our communities and adapt to climate change, mitigation and adaptation must go hand in hand. One is cutting carbon emissions to reduce the long-term impacts of climate change and the other is ensuring our communities are resilient to the climate impacts we are currently experiencing.

“Our Climate Action Plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough highlighted the need for increased climate infrastructure to ensure our energy systems generate and deliver renewable energy, and the innovative PIRI project will do just that, removing waste from landfill whilst simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and providing cleaner air for residents.”

Image source: Viridor

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