SOLIHULL Council has hit a stumbling block in its hope for create a new low carbon town centre heat network.
But it insists it remains committed to the project.
After testing, officers have now ruled out one potential source of heat, generated from under the ground at Tudor Grange Park.
Today’s statement of intent at the Conservative-run local authority also follows this month’s declaration of commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030, following criticisms by political opponents including the Green Party.
A press release states: “Plans are being explored to utilise renewable heat sources in order to operate a localised town centre heat network.
“This will use a system of insulated pipes to take heat from a central source and carry it to public buildings and private sector customers within the town centre.
“The exciting project, announced last year, has the potential to provide cheaper and more sustainable energy while supporting the council’s strategy to cut carbon emissions, benefiting the environment.”
Work began in January with the drilling and casing of a test borehole at Tudor Grange Park concluded last month, the council adds.
The purpose of the test borehole was to investigate what groundwater flows may be available from the water-bearing rock (aquifer) beneath the park.
The objective was to establish whether sufficient ground source energy might be present in the water to power a local heat network.
The statement continues: “Utilising this method is dependent on number of factors including; water yield, the power required to pump the water and the number of boreholes required to provide the heat needed for the network. It also needs to be possible to return the water to the aquifer.
“Extensive analysis of the borehole results has now shown that while it is possible to extract enough water from the ground, the low porosity of the water-bearing rock means it can’t be returned to the aquifer at a sufficient rate. Unfortunately this discovery rules out a ground source heat pump as a viable option at this location.
“The council however, remains committed to developing the idea, in line with its environmental agenda, and will continue exploring alternative options to power a district heat network.
“Other renewable options such as utilising air source heat pumps could still allow the project to meet all of its original aims, which include delivering on CO2 savings, and providing energy cost savings to customers.
“Exploring alternative options, the project team will continue to look at network designs, carry out full financial modelling and assess commercial delivery options with a view to submitting an ‘outline business case’ in the coming months.”
The council says all of the funding for the study and investigations, involved with the test borehole, has come from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Heat Network delivery unit (HNDU) and the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Councillor Andy Mackiewicz , cabinet member for climate change, planning and housing said: “As a council we are committed to working towards a low carbon future. I am really excited about the prospect of developing a scheme with the potential to produce cheaper, more sustainable energy, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions and this remains our focus.
“We now know that it won’t be viable to utilise the ground source heat alone at Tudor Grange Park for this purpose, however by looking at alternative options I am hopeful that we can still deliver on our ambition of a low carbon Town Centre heat network.”
Council officers will be holding an informal drop-in session at the Core Library on Wednesday October 30 from 10 am to 2pm, for members of the public to find out more about the project and ask any questions they may have about the next steps. People can also ask questions about the project by emailing: [email protected].