Project update 4

June 10, 2022 

For anyone who wasn't able to attend the community meeting on 25th May, this update provides a short written summary of the options presented at that session. For more details, the full presentation can be found attached to Project Update 3.


The next step in the process of understanding the project’s feasibility for Brightwell is to gather feedback from the community on the level of interest in the proposed scheme. We've published a new survey to gather views on the options, which takes about 5 minutes to complete.

The presentation focused on our technical review of the heating requirements in Brightwell, an overview of the different technologies available, a review of the viable technical options given the hydrogeological conditions in Brightwell, and our recommendations on the kinds of system that would therefore be suitable. Information on the different types of heat network technologies can be found in the FAQ section, and below is a summary of the options proposed for your community.


A centralised energy centre

In this approach, the whole village is connected to a centralised ground source heating system, which takes advantage of the shallow aquifer beneath Brightwell. A small number of vertical boreholes are drilled to extract water (which is later reinjected into the aquifer). This water then passes through heat pumps in a central energy centre to create enough heat energy to supply homes across the village. The heat is transferred from the energy centre through insulated pipework, connecting to individual homes. Homes connecting to the network have their boiler replaced with a Heat Interface Unit, which transfers the heat into your home’s central heating system (which can be the existing radiator system, if you have one). Heat for both radiators and hot water is provided.

The network consists of the boreholes, energy centre and insulated pipework, all of which involve capital investment and development time (and some upheaval). The costs at this early stage are estimated to be in the region of £15m - this cost is not paid for by the community, instead a community organisation would be created to raise finance to fund the works.


Individual homes are connected to the network using a similar cost model to boiler replacement (which at the earliest stages of the project may be covered by the upfront capital investment), and operating costs aim to shield energy consumers (householders) from the price volatility of the energy market. The community heat network typically provides heat at around at least a 10% discount compared to the price of gas. This would present quite a substantial saving for the high number of Brightwell residents currently using oil for space and water heating.

Decentralised solution

Given the size and dispersed layout of Brightwell, we have also considered the option of providing a decentralised solution to decarbonisation of heating.

In this proposed approach, each home installs its own air source heat pump (ASHP) to provide heating and hot water. This is something individual households can already do, but in a community decentralised ASHP system, the community can define how the ‘network’ will be owned, operated and managed, and the rates charged to consumers for the heat they use (as opposed to the electricity being used to power the heat pumps). ASHPs replace gas or oil boilers, or can replace electric storage heater systems (with the addition of radiators).


Our proposal outlines an approach called a private wire, which provides community-procured electricity to all the individual heat pumps, including back-up batteries. Instead of digging up roads to install insulated water pipes, a simpler dig programme installs a new community-wide electricity distribution network, providing power to each ASHP. This private wire network does not replace other electrical power to homes, it only powers the home-level heat pumps.

The capital costs of this option are lower, at around £10m, and would again be covered by raising debt or equity finance. The cost to run would have a similar discount to the centralised system, and would again be set within the community.

More information on the technologies and proposed options can be found in the presentation - please refer to Project update 3 as mentioned above.

We would like your feedback on the proposed approaches!

To have your say on the future of the Parish's heating, please fill out our short community interest survey by clicking the 'Share your views' option on the menu bar above, or click here.

If you have any questions on the proposals, please contact us using this form