Kirklees Council is looking beyond the current energy crisis and wants to build its own £21 million power plant for Huddersfield town centre.

If successful the scheme could eventually provide lower cost heating for homes and businesses – and make profits for the council.

The Huddersfield District Energy Network will take heat generated by burning waste in the incinerator at Diamond Street, Hillhouse, and pipe it, via an Energy Centre, to customers in the town centre.

The council has plans to build the Energy Centre at 37 Old Leeds Road, close to the site of the former Huddersfield Sports Centre off Southgate.

A network of underground insulated pipes would go from the waste incinerator at Hillhouse – known as the Energy-from-Waste Plant – along the A62 Leeds Road and into the town centre, stretching as far as Northumberland Street, High Street and Queen Street.

The initial phase would see heat and hot water supplied to council buildings and also four other large town centre buildings. The four non-council sites have not yet been made public as no contracts have yet been exchanged.

Longer-term the scheme could be extended, possibly to the John Smith’s Stadium and to homes on the nearby Town estate.

The main aim behind the scheme is to help Kirklees cut carbon emissions to meet its target of net zero by 2038. The so-called ‘heat network’ would see a 68% reduction in carbon emissions over typical gas boilers.

As well as heat, the plant could also provide electricity via a separate network referred to as a ‘private wire.’

The Energy Centre, which will house pumps for pumping the water around the network and vessels to store the heat as hot water, will have a distinctive design including yellow cladding on the main flue. It will also have a large window to showcase what is happening inside. The centre will also contain gas boilers as a back-up.

The council has drawn up an outline business case and has now applied for Government funding for a full business case, which would determine whether the scheme is commercially-viable.

If the plans are given the go ahead work on the project could start between April 2024 and March 2025.

The council has been working closely with the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. In a letter to the council, George Robinson, the department’s head of investment, described the Huddersfield scheme as “one of the most exciting opportunities within our sizeable portfolio of projects nationally.”

Clr Naheed Mather and Clr Will Simpson

In a joint statement Clr Naheed Mather, Cabinet member for environment, and Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “District Energy Networks are recognised by central government as one of the most effective ways of decarbonising the local heat supply in urban areas.

“We recognise the challenges of a changing climate facing the district and are making changes to meet the important target of net zero in 2038 for the benefit of Kirklees residents, its wildlife, landscape and biodiversity.

“The scheme – managed by the council’s Air Quality, Energy and Climate Change Team – would make a significant dent in the decarbonisation of Huddersfield town centre.

“We would like to thank officers for all the work that has gone into the project to date which, if fully approved, will be a significant contribution in making our district greener and carbon neutral by our 2038 target.”