Innovative district heating network could be built in Didcot

Released on February 2, 2018

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have identified an innovative opportunity to use excess heat from industrial sites to heat other buildings in and around Didcot Garden Town.  

One potential idea is to build a ‘district heat network’ that could be to use excess heat from Didcot B Power station to directly heat nearby business premises.  

The scheme could provide heating to new businesses and offices set to be built on the old Didcot A Power Station site and stretch out via underground pipes to a nearby business Enterprise Zone sites in North Didcot.    

As part of Didcot Garden Town plans to introduce renewable energy, the environmental project would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions whilst providing low-cost reliable heat.  The water source heat pump could produce 16,500 megawatt hours per year – equivalent to powering 1,375 homes.  

The district councils have completed two preliminary stages of feasibility studies and worked closely with RWE, land owners, businesses, developers and local key stakeholders.  The studies have also included other local schemes, some of which would supply heat and power to other businesses and residential developments. 

John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council said, “We are hugely excited by this project. We've asked the government for some funding to investigate it further and, if we get that, we will carry out the detailed design and viability work to see if a north Didcot combined heat and power scheme can become reality.” 

Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said, “Working with RWE and other partners, the initial signs are very positive for building a new energy centre and heat network.  Using excess heat from power stations has been successful throughout Europe and our Science Vale region has the potential to be one of the first to install this technology in the UK.”  

Neil Scott, Station manager of Didcot B Power Station said, “RWE welcomes the opportunity to investigate innovative ways of providing energy for our homes and businesses of the future.  We look forward to continuing work with both district councils and supporting the Didcot area in its ongoing garden town plans.” 

The district councils hope to receive government funding later this year to progress the heat network project further by completing financial and technical tests and to create possible designs for the proposed various combined heat and power networks.   


Background information

Energy centres can be powered by using a variety of technologies from conventional power such as gas powered combined heat and power to innovative or renewable sources like waste heat, hydrogen, solar, ground source heating and biomass.

Benefits of heat networks are:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and less pollution
  • Improved air quality
  • Increase of fuel security – reliable source of heat
  • Reduced energy costs for the consumer 

The government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.  

For a sustainable heating supply, domestic properties will need to have almost zero carbon emissions and industrial properties will need to reduce their emissions by 70 per cent. 

A key element to reducing the UK’s emissions will be from heat networks - government will be investing £320m for capital investment to bridge funding gaps that may exist between project costs and commercial viability.