A district heating network is a system of insulated pipes that takes heat from a central source and delivers it to a number of domestic or non-domestic buildings.

Air Source Heat Pumps are at work in refrigerators worldwide. They extract heat from inside the refrigerator and expel the heat out the back of the unit. The Air Source Heat Pumps used in the Bradford Energy Network absorb heat from the air and transfers this heat into water which is circulated around a city in underground pipes, connecting to buildings and providing heat.
Using Air Source Heat Pumps to create a district heating network will make a significant contribution to improving local air quality in Bradford city centre. Buildings which are connected to the heating network will initially reduce their related emissions by 85% in comparison to using conventional heating sources such as gas boilers.
Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are a well-established technology and are already used throughout the UK to heat and cool people’s homes and refrigerators. Large ASHPs are also used for industrial size buildings.

In Europe, ASHPs are used successfully for district heating in Denmark and have been for over a decade. Bradford Energy Limited is aiming to be the first in the UK to use ASHPs for district heating.

If there is a grid outage cutting electricity supply to the ASHPs, there will be gas boilers in place as a back-up (the most cost-effective way of providing a backup at this point in time but our intention is to move away from the use of gas as early as economically possible). Additionally the BEN has 3 huge stores of hot water (thermal stores) which also supply heat to customers. This means there are three methods of supplying heat to customers.
The network will start supplying heat to buildings in 2025. Phased construction is expected to take place during 2023 and 2024.
The project will be partly funded by a £20m grant from the UK Government’s Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) that has been established to assist with the delivery of new heat networks. This will be alongside a significant private investment from 1Energy who are supported by Asper Investment Management.
Asper Investment Management is a specialist sustainable infrastructure investor that has supported businesses across Europe to build new sustainable infrastructure. They have supported several successful district heating businesses like the Bradford Energy Network, and the development of district heating networks in both Sweden and The Netherlands, making it one of the largest private-sector investors into district heating in Europe. Asper has plans to invest several hundred million pounds into heat networks in the UK over the next 5-10 years, including more than £20 million into the initial phase of the Bradford Energy Network.
The proposed district heating network would make a significant contribution to the achievement of net-zero for Bradford, and to the achievement of Bradford City Council’s sustainable development goals. It is estimated that the BEN could reduce emissions in Bradford by approximately 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year in phase one. Local air quality would be significantly improved by reducing the emissions generated by buildings on the district heating network by around 85-90%.

District heating provides the most economical option available for decarbonising heating in Bradford, for the Council and the private sector, with costs being around 30% cheaper than the most economical alternative zero-carbon heating option available. This means that Bradford can achieve decarbonisation cheaper with the BEN, benefiting Bradford businesses, communities and citizens.

By providing this alternative heating method, and by offering a secure, local, heating source, Bradford can improve competitiveness to make the city more attractive to employers and to secure inward investment – boosting clean growth. The BEN will speed up the pace of decarbonisation as it is the simplest method of securing low carbon heating for buildings. BEL does almost all the work to connect the buildings to the BEN, and the method of connection is simple (alternate methods require each building owner to figure out how to decarbonise their building themselves).

The BEN will enable developers to meet the building regulations and local planning conditions at a lower cost, making it more attractive to build developments in Bradford than in other cities that do not have district heating.

The network would become a major pillar of Bradford as a ‘smart energy’ city, engaging developers, stimulating inward investment and enabling regeneration and would demonstrate Bradford’s credentials as the country’s leading clean growth district. The benefits of the BEN are also likely to prove attractive to potential new employers looking for an effective way to procure clean, reliable and cost-effective heating.

It is intended that apprenticeships would be created during the delivery and operations phases to deliver new skills into Bradford, and it is also intended that local jobs would be created during the construction and delivery phases.