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Cabinet receives update on Caerau Heat Scheme

Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to make a series of changes to its ongoing efforts to develop small-scale, low-carbon heat demonstrator projects in Caerau.

Originally set up as a fully-funded scheme to test whether local homes and buildings could be heated with low-cost energy produced using water from flooded former mine workings, the project later developed to look at whether connections could also be established with nearby wind farms.

This work has highlighted several challenges, the most significant being that Welsh Government does not currently provide any business rate exemption for heat network projects, which would make any scheme financially unviable, and the initiative is experiencing difficulty in recruiting a minimum number of householders to take part in the project.

Because current funding agreements require the pilot scheme to be in place by June 2023 and it is unlikely that these issues will be resolved in time, the council has agreed to focus primarily on setting up a joint mine water heating system and wind farm connection that will provide Caerau Primary with low-cost heating and energy.

This will enable the project to demonstrate the viability of using alternative energy sources while providing time for further recruitment and discussions on business rate exemptions to take place with Welsh Government, after which it is hoped that the housing phase of the project can be revisited.

This is very much uncharted territory so such challenges are to be expected. It remains an exciting project with the potential to help address fuel poverty and support the emergence of a new low-carbon energy industry, and we will continue to work alongside our partners to deliver its aims and make it a success.

Councillor Stuart Baldwin, Cabinet Member for Communities

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