Green Light for UK-First Renewable Energy Scheme
Work on a UK-first renewable energy system is due to get underway after the scheme gained planning permission.
The Viking Energy Network in Jarrow, South Tyneside, will cut annual carbon emissions by 1,035 tonnes.
The multi-million-pound project was today given the green light by South Tyneside Council's Planning Committee. Work will start on site immediately.
The network will harness low-grade heat from the River Tyne and export it to nine council-owned buildings in Jarrow, including high-rise flats, two schools and sheltered accommodation schemes.
The scheme, which combines a river source heat pump, a combined heat and power (CHP) back-up system, a 1 MW solar farm, and a private wire electrical network with storage battery, is the first of its kind in the UK.
An energy centre will be built on the banks of the river, with a series of ducts and pipes to distribute heat to the various sites.
The council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and pledged to take all necessary steps to make the council carbon neutral by 2030.
George Mansbridge, Corporate Director, Regeneration and Environment, said: "This will combine three renewable technologies, ensuring minimal use of fossil fuels.
"It should also run close to carbon neutral for much of the summer by using electricity generated by the solar farm to run the heat pump. Any surplus electricity will be used in council buildings."
Water source heat pumps work by extracting heat from a body of water, compressing it to increase the temperature and then converting it into useful energy in the form of hot water in a network of insulated pipes. The solar farm would provide much of the electricity to power the heat pump.
CHP - which would be used in the event that the solar panels do not generate enough electricity - is a highly-efficient process that harnesses the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process and which would otherwise be wasted.
The project has attracted a £3.5m ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) grant for its innovative approach.