At least one million homes and businesses across England could access renewable heat hidden in our waterways, according to DECC.
An interactive online map has revealed the energy in over 4,000 rivers, estuaries, canals and coastal sites across the country. The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) believes this could provide over six gigawatts of low-carbon heat to communities, through the installation of water-source heat pumps. The government said it could help eliminate the need for gas-fired domestic heating, slashing a typical household's carbon footprint by up to 50%.
Launching the new Water Source Heat Map at Battersea Power Station in London on 25 March, Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: "We need to make the most of the vast amount of clean, renewable heat that lays dormant and unused in our rivers, lakes and seas. Doing this will help contribute to an energy mix that maximises clean, reliable home-grown resources rather than relying on foreign fossil fuels. It also provides a system that bolsters growth in our local economies, protects the natural environment, and creates resilient communities that are capable of producing sustainable power systems. This is exactly why we're giving local people, developers and councils the keys they need to unlock the enormous potential of our waterways."
Energy company SSE will be carrying out a full heat pump feasibility study into the installation of a water-source heat pump at Battersea Power Station. The company will also investigate the re-use of existing engineering infrastructure that was built 80 years ago to connect the Power Station to the Thames when it was generating power. If a heat pump is installed at the site, it would be one of the energy sources used to provide heat to around 4,000 new homes, shops, offices and public amenities being provided at the Power Station.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England & Wales, said: "We very much welcome today's announcement, which recognises the huge potential of water sourced heat pumps to deliver a low carbon solution to the UK’s heating and cooling demands. We have a number of innovative projects already underway, or in development, on our canals and rivers. These are delivering benefits for waterside businesses and the environment and proving again that, 200 years after they were built, the waterways are still bringing a whole range of benefits to the nation."
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