Civic and business leaders, along with students from Stoke-on-Trent College's Urban Heat Academy have broken the ground on the next stage of the city's district heat network. The official ceremony paves the way for 1.4km of pipes to be laid under College Road in Shelton, with the pipes forming part of a developing city-wide network that will pump hot water to businesses and later on houses, providing renewable heat energy.
The District Heat Network is led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and the latest £1.9 million (US$2.3 million) phase follows on from pipes being laid under Leek Road in Stoke earlier this year. Sustainable energy specialist Vital Energi is carrying out this phase of the works which will take 30 weeks to complete.
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for the environment, who helped to break the ground on the project said: "This network is all about providing sustainable, cleaner and greener energy to heat our city for generations to come. We're a forward-looking city, and we are committed to doing all we can to protect and improve our environment. It's a pioneering initiative - nowhere else in the country is developing a heat network with the ambition and scope that we are underway with.
"Careful mapping of our city's geology has shown us that there is geothermal energy under Stoke-on-Trent, and the deep seam coal mining of the past has helped us to identify its source. It is serendipitous that our energy source of the past could help us in powering our city for the future. Our plans for the network are that it will eventually go on to be powered by these hot underground rocks.
"We're thrilled to be launching this latest phase of works. It is the next stage of a total of 18km of pipes that will be installed over the next four years stretching across the city from Leek Road to Festival Park. As the scheme develops, we'll be talking to businesses and the households to explain how they can be part of the network."
The latest phase of the network will run from the Station Road roundabout on College Road to Stoke-on-Trent College's Cauldon campus.
The college's Urban Heat Academy will work with contractors and employers involved in the design, installation, management and maintenance of the District Heat Network to provide apprenticeships and work-related training
Projects like this can offer fantastic opportunities to deliver community benefits
Vital Energi will employ a local apprentice, from the college's Urban Heat Academy, who will be working on the project via day release for the duration of the contract works.
Ashley Walsh, Vital Energi's operations director (Infrastructure), said: "Projects like this can offer fantastic opportunities to deliver community benefits such as employment and training to local people and we are delighted to be working on such a visionary scheme.
"This project has, not only the potential to expand and become a major heat network but also to become one of the first successful geothermal schemes in the UK, making it a truly important contribution to the UK's energy infrastructure."
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