Waste energy could heat town centre buildings with revolutionary low carbon heat network

Revolutionary renewable energy technology for the borough could provide low carbon heating using waste heat from local industry.

St Helens Borough Council has secured government funding of £138,000 to produce a plan for a district heat network, which would harness waste heat produced by manufacturing processes at Pilkington UK’s Greengate site, or a planned Energy Recovery Facility currently in development by the ESB group. 

Waste heat could be transported through insulated pipes to buildings in St Helens Town Centre, including St Helens College – which otherwise rely on expensive, gas-fired boiler systems – providing low carbon heating. 

Familiar heating controls are available to each building as the central heating and hot water system works in the same way as a gas-fired central heating system, but without the need for any combustion to take place inside the building. 

The network would save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted over its life span and reduce energy bills for its consumers. 

Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “We are committed to exploring opportunities for low carbon energy in our borough on our pathway to net zero carbon emissions by 2040. This exciting project demonstrates what is possible when organisations work together to reduce our impact on the environment, and I look forward to seeing the project progress.” 

The heat network could be developed in phases alongside the regeneration of the town centre, and is supported by key stakeholders including St Helens College and Pilkington UK. 

Rav Garcha, Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer at St Helens College, said: “We are delighted to support St Helens Borough Council’s plans for a district heat network. As a key stakeholder in the town centre and one of the largest education providers in the region, we have a responsibility to address climate change and this partnership is a welcome addition to our own commitment and road map to net zero.” 

Chris Dye, Category Manager for Renewable Energy Procurement at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, said: “Decarbonising our operations and supporting the wider fight against climate change is one of our most significant challenges. It’s essential that we are constantly working to identify new and innovative ways to reduce emissions and have a positive impact on achieving the UK’s net zero targets. 

“Our Greengate site in St Helens is at the forefront of sustainable innovation in the industry having recently run our furnace using hydrogen in place of natural gas in a world first. The heat network project offers us another exciting opportunity to further decarbonise and benefit the community our site is part of.”