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Cambridge City Council

Council and University to explore feasibility of city centre heat network to help reduce emissions

1 November 2022

CAMBRIDGE City Council, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, has secured government funding to undertake a study to explore the feasibility of developing the Cambridge City Centre Heat Network.

If the study identifies it is feasible and government funding is available to develop the project further, a heat network could eventually be built, which could supply 100% renewable heating and hot water to city centre buildings belonging to the council, the University of Cambridge and others.

This could present a solution to reduce the emissions produced by historic buildings such as the Corn Exchange, the Guildhall, and various University of Cambridge and College sites that may be among some of the hardest in the city to decarbonise.

Earlier this year the council and the University of Cambridge, with the support from sixteen university colleges, submitted a bid to the government’s Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) for funding to carry out a feasibility study to determine the technical and economic feasibility of the scheme.

The government has now confirmed it will provide £97,680 towards the study, with the council and University also making a financial contribution of £16,500 each. The council and partners will procure expert consultants to conduct the study and is aiming to complete the study by summer 2023.

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “This funding represents an exciting first step, which could ultimately lead to the development of a city centre heat network that could provide a transformational zero-carbon heating and hot water supply for buildings in the city centre and beyond.”

“In recent years we have delivered a number of projects to help reduce carbon emissions across the city and I hope that this study produces positive results and helps us to provide another significant way to help tackle the climate crisis.”

Professor Ian Leslie, Chair of the University of Cambridge’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee, said: “Decarbonising space and water heating in an historic city setting is challenging — but necessary. The University, with the support of the Colleges, is excited to be working with the city council to progress a proposal for a heat network in Cambridge. Establishing a core heat network is an ambitious undertaking, but one which could provide the nucleus for an ever-growing network eventually spanning the entire city.”