Leeds City Council has announced that more residents in the area will soon have access to affordable, reliable, and low-carbon heat, thanks to four new connections to the Leeds PIPES district heating network. The network has proven to be successful and has received accolades, with plans for two major extensions recently published and discussed by senior council members.

The project has been supported by £5.4 million in government funding and received a visit from Lord Callanan, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance. During his visit, Lord Callanan explored various landmarks and connections on the network, including the Recycling & Energy Recovery Facility, Cross Green Energy Centre, St James’s Hospital, and Shakespeare Towers, where he met council tenants connected to the Heat Network.

The innovative Leeds PIPES district heating project utilises heat and energy recovered from non-recyclable waste at the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility to provide warmth and hot water to buildings in the city. This move away from fossil-fuel-powered heating systems has led to significant energy cost savings for existing customers, amounting to nearly £490,000 this year alone.

The network’s growth has been impressive, with new buildings regularly connecting to the system. The latest additions to the network include Spinner’s Yard, developed by Rise Homes; Leonardo and Thoresby buildings, developed by McLaren on behalf of Arrow Leonardo; Leeds Technology Campus, developed by Metropolitan & District Securities; and Leeds Conservatoire.

In addition to the confirmed connections, the council has applied for up to £20 million of grant funding to enable two major extensions to the existing network. The first extension would involve laying an additional 600 meters (0.4 miles) of pipes from Little Queen Street to Wellington Street. The second extension would cover approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) of low carbon heat network in the South Bank of the city centre, eventually connecting to the existing Leeds PIPES infrastructure. If approved, construction of these extensions could begin as early as 2024 and conclude by 2026.

Currently, discussions are ongoing with around 40 potential customers located near the underground pipes who can choose to connect at any time. The project has already made a significant impact on employment in the local low-carbon sector, providing job opportunities to over 430 people, including 36 apprentices.

With the network’s continuous expansion and environmentally friendly approach, the Leeds PIPES district heating project is making a substantial contribution to reducing the city’s carbon footprint and paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future for Leeds. A newly launched website aims to raise awareness of the scheme’s benefits for residents, developers, and building managers, further promoting its positive impact on the community.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Climate, Energy, Environment and Green Space, said; “Year after year, the Leeds PIPES district heating network continues to gain momentum. I am delighted that four more buildings—including the first private residential developers—have now signed up for the benefits of affordable, reliable, and low-carbon heating.

“By planning to bring the network to completely different parts of the city, we’ll soon be able to give many more businesses and residents a new opportunity to move away from costly fossil fuels and towards a greener future with Leeds PIPES heating.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said; “The Leeds PIPES heat network is providing low-cost heating to local communities and it’s fantastic to hear this project, backed by government funding, will be extended to allow even more people to benefit.

“What I witnessed in Leeds is part of the future of low-carbon heating in this country, reducing emissions while supporting the nation’s push for greater energy security and independence.

“That is why we are investing millions of pounds in building new, greener heat networks and upgrading old inefficient systems.”

Mike Cooke, Vital Energi’s Managing Director (North and Scotland), said; “It was great to show Lord Callanan around the network, but the buildings and energy centres are only part of the story. By meeting some of the residents and non-domestic connections, the positive impact of this project was evident. We believe it is a scheme which sets the standards for what major cities can achieve and look forward to working with Leeds City Council on Leeds PIPES’ continued expansion.”