Torry heating network project moves to next stage

The £9.5million District Heating Network for Torry which would provide lower-cost heating for residents took a step forward at committee today.

The project’s Phase One was given the go-ahead by councillors on Aberdeen City Council’s Communities, Housing and Infrastructure committee. They agreed to move to the next part of the project, which is to undertake stakeholder engagement.

A further recommendation was agreed to appoint a project team, and develop a business case, procurement strategy and project plan to deliver this project subject to the allocation of the estimated Phase 1 Torry District Heating Network project cost in the Council’s Capital Plan.

The committee also agreed the estimated Phase 1 Torry District Heating Network project cost will be put forward for consideration in the Council’s budget process.

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure convener Councillor Neil Cooney said: “It is to be welcomed the next stage of the project has been approved today as it will look into the benefits to residents more thoroughly and engage with them and other stakeholders.

“The Torry District Heat Network will delivers fuel cost savings to householders and thereby contribute to reduced fuel poverty, and achieve a more environmentally sustainable heat delivery system for those householders.”

A report before committee said Phase 1 of the District Heating Network would cover 814 homes, largely Council-owned with 80 in Housing Association ownership. The approximate length of Phase 1 heat network is 7.3km.

There are a number of privately owned properties within the Phase 1 area but no assumption has been made that these will connect to the District Heating System. Future connection of private properties represents an opportunity for further enhancement of the Business Case for the District Heating project and the private householders would also benefit from lower heating bills.

In addition, the report said, Torry primary school, swimming pool and community centre would be connected. There has been discussions with The Robert Gordon University about potentially using the system in the future.

The report said a decision had been taken at Full Council on 24 October 2016 with regard to Energy from Waste Project budgets and the HEATNET project. The Torry District Heating Network would connect to the Energy from Waste project.

The report explained a feasibility study had been carried out undertaken by consultants Ramboll Energy, which identified that there is an economic case for the development of the first phase of the District Heating Network in Torry.

The case includes a series of conservative assumptions that provide comfort that the preferred option will cover its costs over the life of the project, generate sufficient income to offset the cost of investment, and provide savings to householders in comparison to continuing to use gas, oil or electric heating.

The construction capital cost is estimated at £8.7million, and with project management and specialist support to the procurement and project implementation phases, the total cost of the project would be approximately £9.5million.

The next steps to be taken would be to establish a project team, develop a detailed business case, procurement strategy and project plan in advance of commencement of a procurement process.

The study by Ramboll put forward three options, and recommended Option 2 would be taken forward, and it would deliver substantial cost savings to householders over the life of the project of £2.07million, which equates to heating bills on average 14% less than the comparable gas costs.

The model estimates that there will be a saving of 107,666 tonnes of CO2 achieved through the lifetime of the project (in comparison to gas heating) which demonstrates there is a significant environmental benefit to be achieved from the project.

The report considered by councillors said the feasibility study demonstrates that, given this early stage of analysis and cost certainty, there is sufficient confidence that there is a project that makes financial sense to the Council, covered by Phase 1 of the Torry District Heating Network.