Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo) announced today that they will be continuing work with Firle Estate to create an affordable, low-carbon heat network for this village outside of Lewes in East Sussex, thanks to a recent Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) grant administered by the Greater South East Energy Hub. 

At present, most properties in the village rely on fossil fuels as a source of heat, usually heating oil or liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Burning these fuels releases carbon-dioxide, a key contributor to the climate change crisis, as well as other toxic air pollutants, like particulates and oxides of nitrogen.

For the last two years, BHESCo have been exploring the possibilities for powering the village with locally sourced, community owned clean energy,  encouraging village residents and the Estate to play their part in achieving the nation’s Net Zero goals.

Following funding approval to complete these riskier development-stage tasks which include quantifying the total project costs, BHESCo will now be able to finalise its economic offer to residents for the clean heat to be generated by this innovative delivery system. BHESCo will be moving ahead to raise the funding to develop the first phase of the programme by installing 4 micro heat-networks to be shared by 22 properties in the village.

rural heat network susex kent - brighton hove energy services 2020

First, to comply with upcoming regulatory requirements, in partnership with RetrofitWorks, the energy efficiency of each home will be improved, ideally to an EPC of C.  A sealed pipe network, called a ‘shared ground loop’ will be dug to transport heat from the ground in a liquid (a mixture of water and glycol often referred to as brine) from boreholes dug to around 120m deep. The brine flows in a cycle around the shared network to each property where heat is extracted by a heat pump to provide hot water and space heating.

“The UK Government is supporting its stated intention to phase out the use of high carbon fossil fuels as a heat supply by extending this grant to BHESCo through the South East Energy Hub. This project will demonstrate how a ground source heat network in a rural village will provide a cost-effective source of highly efficient, clean heat for residents to replace their dirty oil boilers.We hope that the knowledge gained by this project will be useful for rural communities around the country to follow the example set by Firle Estate, who also want to transition from fossil fuel to zero carbon in a way that is affordable and supportive of their residents.”
Kayla Ente - CEO Founder - Brighton Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo)
Kayla Ente
CEO & founder, BHESCo
“The challenge of keeping homes warm while not exacerbating the climate crisis is one we must all take up. If this also presents the opportunity to reduce pressure on household budgets too then it is something we should all support. By working with BHESCo a technically feasible solution is now in sight that will benefit residents and planet alike and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to try to realise it.”
Alistair Deighton
Estates Manager
“We are delighted to be supporting BHESCo through the Rural Community Energy Fund. This is an exciting and innovative project that will enable the local community to decarbonise heat and increase clean energy self-sufficiency. The learning from this project will be made available to other rural communities taking action on the climate emergency.”
Maxine Narburgh
Regional Manager of the Greater South East Energy Hub

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