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Worthing to bring climate-friendly heating offer to every building in town by 2050

The seaside town of Worthing, West Sussex, has launched an ambitious decarbonisation project – The Worthing Heat Network. As well as pledging to offer climate-friendly heating to every building in the town by 2050, the scheme will also see up to £500m of investment from partner Hemiko, a heat network investor, developer, and operator.

It is a standout positive example of climate action in a challenging landscape for local authorities, with more than two-thirds (68%) of local authorities not confident in hitting their Net Zero targets according to polling from the Local Government Association.

Worthing Borough Council identified the Worthing Heat Network in its Carbon Neutral Plan as the cheapest and most efficient way to decarbonise the town’s buildings. The council has brought in Hemiko to fund, deliver and operate the network.

Heat networks work by collecting local unused heat, turning it into hot water and distributing that hot water to local users via a network of underground pipes. This will enableconnected buildings to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels for heating and hot water, reducing their heating emissions by around 90%.

At the initial Worthing Heat Network Energy Centre will be a heat pump system, collecting heat from the air. Over time, the network will bring on more and more sources of locally available, wasted heat.

The use of heat networks, also known as district heating, is anticipated to grow significantly over the next 25 years as the next UK utility. They currently supply heat to around 3% of UK buildings, but this is projected to reach at least 18% by 2050. In the right places, heat networks are around 40% cheaper than individual air source heat pumps.[2]

The first phase of the network will connect mostly large public sector buildings. The first phase alone is expected to save over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, the equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road. It will also create around 40 local jobs. By 2050, Hemiko expect the network to have created up to 500 jobs.

The first phase of Worthing Heat Network received over £7m of funding from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Heat Networks Investment Project. This unlocked £40m of investment from Hemiko, and they plan to invest in the region of £500m by 2050 as the network expands.

Construction is scheduled to commence in July this year, with the first buildings expected to be connected by Summer 2025, including Worthing Town Hall, Worthing Hospital, the Assembly Hall, Portland House, Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, and the Connaught Theatre. The heat network will then expand from there.

Hemiko has worked on heat networks projects across the country – this is the company’s third project in West Sussex alone. The business is rolling out this offer countrywide – it has £1 billion of investment to deploy into town- and city-wide low carbon heat networks by 2030.

Cllr Sophie Cox, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, said:
“The Worthing Heat Network is an exciting development in our transition to low carbon heating and an important milestone in our mission to be a carbon neutral council by 2030 and a net zero borough by 2045.

“I’m really looking forward to the council working alongside Hemiko on the next stages of the project and bringing low carbon heating to the residents and business of Worthing.”

Toby Heysham, chief executive at Hemiko, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have been selected as Worthing Borough Council’s partner for the Worthing Heat Network. It will be an invaluable piece of infrastructure for the local community, not only because it will cut the town’s emissions significantly and improve public health, but it will also offer jobs, apprenticeships, and a hub for innovation and investment into the town.

“This news follows Hemiko’s recent investment in two heat networks in south London. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Hemiko team, as we roll out our decarbonisation offer across more towns and cities. With £1 billion of investment to deploy by 2030, this is only the start of a very exciting next few years.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “Ambitious projects like this in Worthing are why the UK is a world leader when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

“We awarded over £7 million to Worthing Borough Council to help get the project off the ground, and I’m pleased to see they now have a partner in Hemiko to deliver a scheme that will benefit the whole town by delivering cheaper energy bills and lower carbon emissions.

“We have invested more than £500 million since 2019 to transform this sector and our new package of protections will help make sure customers can access the full benefits of heat networks.”

Ken Hunnisett, Heat Network Investment Project lead at Triple Point, said: “District Heating and cooling will play a significant role in the way we decarbonise our buildings in the transition to Net Zero. Until such time as the sector becomes financially self-sustaining, grant funding is often required to ensure commercially viable projects. We were thrilled to be able to support Worthing Borough Council’s goal to deliver this scheme and are excited to see Hemiko bring it to life, and build on the Council’s ambition, in the months to come.”

10 May 2024

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