Nottingham's warmth from waste system
The annual 27,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved by the city's district heating network helps make Nottingham the UK's most energy self-sufficient city. The council's energy from waste plant has been running since 1972 and the latest extension is expected to be completed in 2013.
Nottingham has the largest district heating system in the UK, serving close to 5,000 homes and more than 100 businesses with 65km of pipes.
The heat is produced by the Eastcroft Energy from Waste (EfW) plant. The EfW plant is owned by Nottingham City Council and operated by private contractor WRG. The steam is sold to Enviroenergy Limited, an energy services company (ESCo) wholly owned by Nottingham City Council.
Enviroenergy run the CHP and district heating infrastructure and manage distribution, metering and billing.
The scheme was funded in two stages. Phase one had a total budget of £1.9 million. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) contributed £1.5 million from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund (LCIF) and £0.4 million came from prudential borrowing.
Phase two, extending the scheme, has a total budget of £1.8 million and was funded entirely by the LCIF.
The city's aims for sustainable energy are set out in the Nottingham Energy strategy, developed for the council by the Nottingham Energy Partnership. The main aims for the heating network include:
- tackling fuel poverty
- reducing carbon emissions
- energy security, in terms of price and supply
- preparing for the decline of oil availability (peak oil)
- meeting Nottingham's allocation from the Low Carbon Transition.
Working on a project at this scale could be daunting for any council. For that reason, Nottingham wanted to understand how the scheme would impact on the entire city and whether this kind of development was right for their area. They used the development of the Nottingham Energy strategy to examine every option for low or zero carbon energy. The energy strategy is now the cornerstone of Nottingham's sustainable future.
Council decision makers in particular needed to be convinced that this was a viable project. The energy strategy was used to explain the true potential of the district heating network expansion. By comparing the network proposal to other energy options, it was clear that it was the fastest and most effective way to rapidly increase local energy from low-zero carbon (LZC) sources.
The energy from waste plant has been running since 1972 so work was required to make it fit for 21st century needs. Since 1995, major refurbishments at the plant have cost approximately £20 million. The planned extension due for completion in 2013 is now the focus of officer and member attention.
Planning consent to increase the plant's capacity has been granted to the plant operator, WRG. This followed what the partnership describes as a fairly difficult and lengthy planning process and appeal. The expansion of the incinerator was not a popular option with all local residents.
To fully assess an area's potential, you must consider all options for low or zero carbon energy generation. This feeds into the energy strategy and allows you to properly identify and prioritise investment opportunities.
Although the Nottingham Energy Partnership was well funded by the council, it has said that as the project moves forward it will need further resources for wider consultation and engagement during the development process. Local planning policy will also need to encourage connections from new developments within reach of the extensions.
The high-profile energy network has increased the city's status as a place to invest for new green industries, creating jobs and boosting the economy. It is reducing fuel poverty and residents' energy bills. Annually, 27,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions are offset by the network.
The network earns renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) from the power generation element and the heat is classed as zero carbon for the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme.
Local planning policy requires that new development offset carbon emissions by producing a certain amount of low or zero carbon energy. This obligation can often be met by connection to the network.
The Enviroenergy heat and power station alone already provides around four per cent of the entire city's power consumption and three-and-a-half per cent of the entire city's heat consumption. Combined with other city schemes, this makes Nottingham the UK's most energy self-sufficient city.
Councillor Graham Chapman, Deputy Leader of Nottingham City Council, added:
"One of the greatest threats to any local economy in the future will be energy supply; both the security and the cost. This means that any reduction in dependency on carbons fuels not only reduces the local footprint but also has a beneficial long-term effect on the local economy. That's why the city of Nottingham is putting so much emphasis on district heating. Better still, it also creates local jobs."
Sustainable Energy Development Manager
Nottingham Energy Partnership
1 May 2012