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Community renewable heating project in Cambridgeshire awarded £2m government grant

A large air source heat pump will be supplemented by solar panels to help heat the village.

A large air source heat pump will be supplemented by solar panels to help heat the village.

The Heating Swaffham Prior project has received a £2.146 million grant to help provide sustainable heating to homes in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire County Council is working with the Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust to develop the project, which will help to transition the 300 strong village of Swaffham in East Cambridgeshire to clean heating.

The grant has been received from the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP), which itself is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and will help drive forwards the project that has been under development since 2017.

It will include 130 200m deep boreholes being drilled into the ground to extract heat to form a heat network.

This will be supplemented by a large air source heat pump, which will be powered by solar panels at the energy centre.

Joshua Schumann, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee, welcomed the grant saying it was a "fantastic project" and the first of its kind in the country as far as they knew.

“Retrofitting a whole village is a challenge but the Swaffham Prior Community land Trust has been a great partner driving the project forward. Securing the funding is a huge step in creating accessible renewable energy for homes in Cambridgeshire.

"Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to tackling climate change and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued success of this project.”

The planning application was officially submitted on Friday 17 July, and if successful construction could begin late this year and continue throughout 2021.

Additional funding from Cambridgeshire County Council and the Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) has supported the project thus far. Once all the legal and financing agreements are clear, the Council could invest up to £5.2 million into the project it has said, a decision that will take place in autumn.

Of the grant from HNIP, £1.79 million will go to construction and the rest to contracting arrangements for the project, with 166 households signed up to benefit initially.

The need to decarbonise the UK’s heating network is becoming increasingly clear, with less than 2% of the heat pumps needed to decarbonise the UK’s homes currently being installed by the government.

Project looking to install both ground and air source heat pumps in particular are popping up around the country, including as part of the Oxford Energy Superhub and one led by OVO Energy around the country.

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