Three high-rise tower blocks to get three times more energy-efficient heating

A flagship renewable heating retrofit project in the Government’s plans to decarbonise social housing is set to reduce fuel bills by over 50% for some Thurrock residents

The project, delivered by Kensa Contracting and Thurrock Council, will demonstrate the potential for Ground Source Heat Pumps on Shared Ground Loops to rapidly and affordably decarbonise multiple properties at scale.

The scheme is also a timely demonstrator of the ability to deliver against the UK’s net zero targets in the wake of a recent report released by the Climate Change Committee which criticised the government for showing great ambition but lacking delivery.

273 storage heaters across three tower blocks in Chadwell St Mary’s, Thurrock will be replaced with Kensa ground source heat pumps inside each flat, which will deliver three times more energy efficiency for the residents.

Thurrock Council secured £3.2 million from Wave 1 of the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to help finance the scheme. The SHDF, a £3.8 billion 2019 manifesto commitment, aims to support local authorities and social landlords to retrofit their housing stock at scale over a 10-year period.

Over 34% of all emissions in the UK are attributed to the provision of heat. The installation of the low-carbon heating systems at Chadwell St Mary’s is expected to provide a 70%+ reduction in carbon emissions. Over the life cycle of this installation, the total emissions saving of the heat pumps is projected to be 7,080 tons of CO2. This is the equivalent of taking 1,540 cars off the road*, significantly improving local air quality and reducing the carbon footprint of the residences.

The project is set to secure 40-50% savings on residents’ annual energy bills*, a significant benefit considering over half of the recipients have been identified as currently at risk of experiencing fuel poverty.

Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of Thurrock Council, said:

This huge investment from the government has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to offer our residents’ an energy-efficient heating system which utilises the natural heat in the ground. There is no doubt that this project will help residents in these homes, cutting their fuel bills by nearly £500* as well as help play our part to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.

Cllr Luke Spillman, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

This funding has been specifically granted to deliver a trailblazing heating solution that is the first of its kind for Thurrock Council. The old storage radiators and hot water systems in each of the 273 flats will be replaced with a significantly better, cost-effective and greener solution.

This is great news for our residents, and I would like to thank the government for awarding this funding and helping us better support our residents and tackle fuel poverty by driving down fuel bills and keeping our homes warmer and greener.

Dr Stuart Gadsden, Commercial Director of Kensa Contracting, said:

Ambitious, large-scale projects like this one undertaken by Thurrock Council are key to meeting the Government’s targets of 600,000 heat pump installs per year by 2028. More than 80% of UK homes will still be in use in 2050, so it is clear that existing buildings will have to undergo significant improvements/ deep retrofitting to meet the challenge of decarbonisation.

Ground Source Heat Pumps on Shared Ground Loops are proven to provide the lowest carbon, lowest running costs and lowest whole-life cost solution, especially for heating high-rise developments. These systems help housing providers lower their environmental impact and future-proof their assets, whilst protecting their tenants from fuel poverty.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that Ground Source Heat Pump systems, such as the one at Chadwell St Mary Towers, are eligible for funding.

It is expected that Wave 2 of the SHDF will be open for applications in late August/early September 2022, with funding being made available to registered providers of social housing, including private and local authority providers, to improve the energy efficiency of social housing properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D, or lower, to an EPC rating of C, and reduce carbon emissions.

Kensa is urging local authorities and housing providers to work with them early and start preparing their Wave 2 applications now to increase their chances of securing funding to decarbonise their stock and tackle fuel poverty. Request a free one-to-one feasibility study.

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