A UK government-backed district heating network has commenced construction in Stoke, England.
The £52m heat network will comprise 700 metres of pipe being laid underground over the next 11 weeks – with 4km due to be installed around the University Quarter in the coming year.
Once the initial scheme is operational next autumn, buildings in the area will be able to connect to the network for affordable and low maintenance heating and hot water.
This first phase will be powered by a gas boiler, and the network is due to be linked to a geothermal plant by 2019, which will provide sustainable heat energy from deep underground, potentially reducing the city's carbon footprint by 12,500 tonnes a year and insulating customers from fuel price fluctuations.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which secured £19.75 million of Government funding for the scheme in 2014, will be the DHN's initial customer, with Thomas Boughey Children's Centre among the first buildings to be connected.
The Stoke Sentinel reports that council leaders are also hoping to sign up Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College and Sanctuary Housing for the first phase.
They believe that once the network is up and running, more customers will come forward after seeing the benefits of the scheme. Around 18km of DHN piping will be installed across Hanley, Stoke and Etruria by 2021.
GT Energy secured planning permission for a deep geothermal plant on the former Greenhouse 2000 site in Festival Way, Etruria, earlier this year.
It is predicted that temperatures of 95 degrees Celsius can be found around 2.8km beneath the valley. The plant would transfer this heat to the closed loop of DHN pipes, which would convey it to buildings on the network.
Once the geothermal plant is operational the gas boiler will be retained as a back-up power source.