A £26m new network piping heat from Cardiff Bay’s incinerator to public buildings across Cardiff could be up and running in 2022, the council says.
Cardiff council wants to use energy from non-recyclable waste from the Trident Park energy recovery facility to heat up a number of buildings across the city through a network of underground pipes.
It is hoped the buildings connected to the network would no longer need to use gas to heat their properties – reducing energy bills and carbon emissions.
The proposed heat network would begin at Trident Park and run through large parts of Cardiff Bay before crossing the railway line. It would then cover the southern edge of the city centre before ending up in the western parts of Newport Road.
Wales Millennium Centre, County Hall, Cardiff Central Square, St David’s Shopping Centre and Cardiff Royal Infirmary are among the buildings and areas that could be connected.
If a full business case is approved next year the council hopes to begin work on the heat network in 2021 and connect up to the first buildings midway through 2022.
Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment, told a meeting the council has looked at similar district heating networks in the Olympic Park in London and Gateshead.
He told the environmental scrutiny committee on October 1: “If we can get this one working it will be a great benefit to the residents of this city.
“There are enormous possibilities for this project but the difficulty is getting this off the ground in the first place.”
Low pressure steam from the Trident Park facility would be used to heat water at a temperature of around 90C which would be circulated throughout the network.
An ‘energy centre’ with boilers would either back up or top up the network in the event that Trident Park is unable to deliver sufficient heat.
Over time the council expects that other heat sources could be added to the network, which would have a 40-year life expectancy.
The heat network would only connect to public buildings in the first stage but there is potential for private sector buildings to join the network.
Potential private buildings to join the network include hotels, arenas and offices, and new development areas such as Dumballs Road, Callaghan Square, Brains Brewery, and the new indoor arena being mooted for Cardiff Bay.
The council says the heat network could supply more than 85% of the heating demands from the public and private buildings close to the distribution pipes.
Phase one of the project would set up a heat network in the area immediately south of the railway line while phase two would connect to other areas of the city centre and the southern end of the Bay.
The first phase would cost an estimated £14.4m – and would be the most expensive part of the project.
Potential funding sources for the first phase of the project include grants from the UK Government and either direct investment or loans from Welsh Government.
It is hoped the private sector would invest in phase two of the project.
An independent body would deliver the heat network but the council and Welsh Government as initial owners of the company would be able to take over the project at any stage.
The council is hoping to get a final business plan and contractor appointed by winter 2020 and sign contracts and begin works in early 2021.
The council is considering the future of County Hall and it could relocate during the lifespan of the heat network – but any replacement would also be connected up to the network.
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