North East Bids for Low Carbon Heat Cluster

North East bids to lead UK with first low carbon heat cluster, the region wants to have a fifth of its properties served by low carbon heat sources by 2050.

Business and political leaders in the North East want to make the region the UK’s first ‘low carbon heat cluster’, putting the region in the lead of efforts to find better and greener ways of heating properties.

The region is hoping to heat a fifth of properties from clean networks by 2050, a huge rise from the 2% provided today. That effort aims to build on projects like the Gateshead District Energy Scheme and the heating network at the Newcastle Helix business park, which are providing low carbon sources of heating.

The region has been designated by the Department for International Trade as a high potential opportunity area for foreign investment in heat networks, and two events taking place this week aim to cement that status. The Association for Decentralised Energy’s Heat Network Conference 2022, a major national conference on the future of heating for homes and businesses, is taking place in Newcastle today and it will be followed by a forum jointly hosted by the North East LEP and the Royal Danish Embassy in London.

The North East has a pipeline of heat network projects worth more than £500m in development and construction, with the network of former mine workings under large parts of the region providing a source for some of the work. It’s hoped that low carbon heating – alongside other green industries such as offshore wind and batteries for electric vehicles – could boost the region’s economy.

Lucy Winskell, chair of the North East LEP, said: “The North East has already been recognised by the government as having the UK’s fastest-growing pipeline of low-carbon heat projects, with innovative projects already delivered such as the Gateshead District Energy Scheme (DES), Newcastle Helix and many more in the construction phase.

We’ll now be learning from our colleagues in Denmark – where two in every three homes are supplied by heat networks – and focusing on the action we can take to empower local decision-making, with the goal of the North East becoming further established as the UK’s leading low carbon heat cluster.”

Heat networks reduce carbon emissions by sharing centralised heat sources, such as geothermal heat, waste heat, or a heat pump, amongst many buildings. They can serve a small number of properties but also be extended to much larger communities, removing the need for each building to have its own boiler.

She added: “There is a clear opportunity for economic growth and investment in our region as a result of our excellence in the low carbon heat sector, alongside other net zero sectors such as offshore wind and battery technology.

We have the backing of central government and, with the support of experts who have implemented heat networks in Denmark, we will make the North East the UK’s exemplar for low carbon heating – while also bringing more and better jobs to the region.”

Both events are taking place at the Common Room in Newcastle, which was built as the headquarters for The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers.

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