homenews and insights case studies powering the uks first eco town

Powering the UK’s first eco town

 zero carbon community in Bicester, Oxfordshire

SSE Heat Networks Limited operates the Energy Centre and heat network for Elmsbrook, a pioneering zero carbon community in Bicester, Oxfordshire

Elmsbrook is the flagship first phase of the North West Bicester eco town development led by residential property group A2Dominion. Once complete, Elmsbrook will feature 393 zero carbon homes, a primary school, local shop, eco pub and community centre. This revolutionary eco development is part of a wider ambition to create up to 6,000 new zero carbon properties for North West Bicester.

Truly sustainable community heat

SSE Heat Networks Limited will take responsibility for the long term maintenance of the Combined Heat and Power plant and provide full customer support.

Greener living

At the heart of the low carbon design is the state-of-the-art Energy Centre and district heating plant which provide heat and hot water to the community and its surrounding facilities. The Energy Centre accommodates a cutting edge Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Unit which generates electricity whilst capturing heat produced as a by-product during the process. The heat is then transported as hot water to taps and radiators in each property removing the need for individual boilers and producing significantly less carbon emissions than conventional heating methods. This core technology supports Elmsbrook and helps it achieve its zero carbon status.

SSE Heat Networks Limited has operational ownership of the Energy Centre (including the heat network) and is responsible for its successful long term management including full customer service for residents.

Trusted partner

SSE Heat Networks Limited has designed a robust solution for Elmsbrook which features the highest environmental performance whilst delivering lower household energy bills. The Energy Centre is deliberately sized to serve a significant portion of the planned North West Bicester development and reflects the best practice principles of the new Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) code of practice for district heating networks. SSE Heat Networks Limited provided lead partner A2Dominion with end to end development support; from creating initial concepts and navigating the planning process; to monitoring construction and commissioning and managing the initial operation and customer service requirements.

SSE plc has a strong track record in delivering low carbon housing solutions and developed its own zero carbon living research project, Greenwatt Way, in Chalvey, Slough. Greenwatt Way is a development of ten zero carbon homes where each home powers itself entirely from renewable energy. The project won the prestigious ADE Innovation Award in recognition of its ground-breaking approach.

Fit for the future

SSE is proud to play a pivotal role in this zero carbon development. The shared energy infrastructure showcased at Elmsbrook will contribute to a positive sense of community and will act as an important tool for local engagement and education on the multiple benefits of sustainable energy provision and consumption. Once fully operational SSE Heat Networks Limited will manage and maintain the heat network and Energy Centre indefinitely. This partnership will provide peace of mind that residents’ heating needs will be looked after by an experienced and committed energy partner in the long term.

Putting the customer first

Our goal was to ensure that residents were fully informed about the energy efficiency of the district heating scheme and the cost benefits it would bring.

Customers first

SSE Heat Networks Limited worked closely with A2Dominion to develop and shape an energy partnership with customer welfare as the top priority. SSE Heat Networks Limited’s project managers and customer service teams actively engaged with A2Dominion’s sales team to ensure prospective residents had comprehensive and clear information about the district heating scheme. This included instructive sessions with guidelines for system users and advice for optimum energy efficiency.

Flexible pricing

As heat networks are not formally regulated, it was vital to ensure that customer rights were protected and their service needs met. As a result, the pricing structure has been designed to be as flexible as possible to protect residents in the event of market fluctuation. The scheme is also registered with the Heat Trust, a new consumer protection scheme which sets a common standard in the quality and level of customer service expected from heat energy suppliers. SSE Heat Networks Limited is a founding member of The Heat Trust and is committed to improving standards for heat customers across their developments.

Elmsbrook is setting the benchmark for zero carbon homes of the future by demonstrating how sustainable living can bring investment, employment and improved lifestyles for all without compromising on quality or comfort. The district heat network and Energy Centre are an integral feature of the vision for Elmsbrook and we are delighting to be working with SSE, a company which shares our core values of sustainability and customer service excellence.

Gerry Walker
Regional Development Director at A2Dominion

Delivering all your heat network needs

SSE Heat Networks Limited is a subsidiary of SSE plc, a FTSE100 company owned, managed and operated in the United Kingdom.

We specialise in the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the complete heat infrastructure for residential and commercial developments. This includes taking on full “ESCo” responsibility for the management of the infrastructure from the Energy Centre to the customer meter and heat interface unit within the customer’s premises.

We can also offer significant capital investment into schemes based on a long term asset ownership or lease model.

Our service includes full responsibility for customer service and management, including meter reading, 24/7 fault response, billing and accounts and customer debt, provided through our UK based customer teams.