07 Aug 2023
Plans to extend Leeds PIPES network into new areas of the city revealed, as four more buildings set to connect.
More people in Leeds will soon enjoy affordable, reliable, and low carbon heat thanks to four new connections to the Leeds PIPES district heating network that have been confirmed by Leeds City Council today.
New plans for two major extensions to the award-winning network—which would enable dozens more buildings to connect—have also been published by the local authority and discussed by senior members.
The scheme has been supported by £5.4 million of government funding to date, and the council and its principal contractor Vital Energi were delighted to host Lord Callanan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance), to visit the network on Thursday (3rd August) to learn more about how the flagship scheme is transforming the city.
The Minister visited several landmarks and connections on the network including the Recycling & Energy Recovery Facility (RERF), Cross Green Energy centre and St James’s Hospital—where he met members from the NHS Estates and Facilities team. Lord Callanan also visited Shakespeare Towers and met council tenants connected to the Heat Network.
By using heat and energy recovered from non-recyclable waste at the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) to provide warmth and hot water to buildings in the city, the Leeds PIPES district heating project is helping businesses and residents to move away from costly fossil-fuel powered heating systems.
The council estimates that the network is helping existing customers to collectively save nearly half a million pounds (£490,000) in reduced energy costs this year alone.
The £62 million network continues to expand and is regularly connecting to new buildings. Leeds Combined Court Centre and Leeds Magistrates’ Court were the latest buildings to take heat from the scheme earlier this year.
Last year, the network of insulated underground pipes supplied 22,029 megawatt-hours of heating in total and helped reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 3,975 tonnes.
The four latest buildings, including the first private-sector residential developers, which have confirmed their intention to connect to the network within the next 12 months are:
- Spinner’s Yard around Mabgate, developed by Rise Homes
- Leonardo and Thoresby buildings on Gt George Street, developed by McLaren on behalf of Arrow Leonardo
- The redevelopment of Leeds Technology Campus on Cookridge Street, developed by Metropolitan & District Securities
- Leeds Conservatoire on Quarry Hill
Separately, senior councillors have recently approved an application for up to £20 million of grant funding that, if successful, would enable two major new extensions to the existing network.
The first new extension would see another 600m (0.4 miles) of pipes laid from Little Queen Street to Wellington Street. A second new extension, located in the South Bank of the city centre, would see approximately 7 km (4.3 miles) of low carbon heat network installed from Clarence Road to Sweet Street and eventually connecting to the existing Leeds PIPES infrastructure. Subject to funding and final approval, construction of the extensions could begin as soon as 2024 with works completing in 2026.
Work to develop the detailed project plans and business cases required to secure funding for and construct the new extensions is currently underway after the council successfully secured £154,000 of grant funding from the government’s Heat Network Development Unit earlier this year.
Buildings and developments located near the underground pipes can choose to connect at any time and the council is currently in discussions with around 40 potential customers. A new website for the scheme was recently launched to help raise awareness of the different benefits for residents, developers, and building managers.
The major Leeds PIPES project—delivered in partnership with Vital Energi—has helped employ more than 430 people in the local low carbon sector to date, including 36 apprentices.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Climate, Energy, Environment and Green Space, said:
“Year after year, the Leeds PIPES district heating network continues to gain momentum. I am delighted that four more buildings—including the first private residential developers—have now signed up for the benefits of affordable, reliable, and low carbon heating.
“By planning to bring the network to completely different parts of the city, we’ll soon be able to give many more businesses and residents a new opportunity to move away from costly fossil-fuels and towards a greener future with Leeds PIPES heating.”
Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:
“The Leeds PIPES heat network is providing low-cost heating to local communities and it’s fantastic to hear this project, backed by government funding, will be extended to allow even more people to benefit.
“What I witnessed in Leeds is part of the future of low-carbon heating in this country, reducing emissions while supporting the nation’s push for greater energy security and independence.
“That is why we are investing millions of pounds in building new, greener heat networks and upgrading old inefficient systems.”
Mike Cooke, Vital Energi’s Managing Director (North and Scotland), said:
"It was a great to show Lord Callanan around the network, but the buildings and energy centres are only part of the story. By meeting some of the residents and non-domestic connections, the positive impact of this project were evident. We believe it is a scheme which sets the standards for what major cities can achieve and look forward to working with Leeds City Council on Leeds PIPES' continued expansion.”
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Leeds City Council