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Comberton Village College’s £3.1m low carbon heat network goes live - and will save thousands of pounds a year





The largest ground source heat pump network at a UK secondary school is up and running at Comberton Village College following an £3.1million investment.

The 18-month project has enabled the school to switch from ageing oil boilers, slashing its carbon emissions from heating by 70 per cent. The move is expected to save it thousands of pounds a year in energy costs.

Comberton Village College’s heat pump
Comberton Village College’s heat pump

An array of 60 boreholes that run 200m deep has been created, connected to two large ground source heat pumps, which pipe the heat to 11 plant rooms around the large site, providing up to 705kW of energy.

The 141kW solar photovoltaic panels previously installed across three roofs help to power the heat pumps.

The project has been a collaboration between The Cam Academy Trust, which runs the college, and Cambridgeshire County Council, with the work carried out by Bouygues Energies & Services with a performance guarantee on energy savings.

The council invested £1.2m, with the rest paid for by a £1.9m government grant under the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, delivered by funding partner Salix Finance.

A lease between the council and the trust will enable the council to recover its investment, with the school funding the lease payments through savings on its energy bills.

The network is funded via an innovative scheme
The network is funded via an innovative scheme

Stephen Munday, Cam Academy Trust chief executive, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been able to help to oversee this major development at Comberton Village College. From every perspective, this has to be judged a very good and a very desirable way forward.

“We are strongly committed to green environmental approaches across all our schools, both in terms of education and approaches to our sites. This is a very powerful example of this.

“It also makes complete sense in terms of future energy costs and putting more of our future funding into education provision rather than high energy bills.

Solar panels help to power the network
Solar panels help to power the network

“It is the sort of investment in public buildings that many of us would want and hope to see across our country moving forward.”

Cllr Lorna Dupré (Lib Dem, Sutton), chair of the council’s environment and green investment committee, said: “Our vision is to deliver net-zero carbon emissions for Cambridgeshire as a county by 2045. The Comberton Village College project is a great example of how the county council is working in communities with stakeholders like Bouygues Energies & Services and the Cam Academy Trust to deliver this.

“The low carbon heat network not only ensures that we are doing our part to tackle climate change but is also a great example of how to retrofit low carbon heating on other sites.”

Comberton Village College pupils learn about the network
Comberton Village College pupils learn about the network

Salix Finance Programme Manager, Kirsty Adamson said: “The Comberton Village College is a truly collaborative project which will help Cambridgeshire County Council meet its ambitious net zero targets.

“Hopefully this will inspire, not only other schools to decarbonise their estates, but of course the future generations coming up through the education system.”

Miles Messenger, energy engineering director at Bouygues Energies & Services, added:

“We are proud to have successfully delivered this innovative low carbon heat network scheme at Comberton Village College for Cambridgeshire County Council to help them meet their net zero target.

Comberton Village College’s heat pump is now operational
Comberton Village College’s heat pump is now operational

“The project will not only deliver significant energy and cost savings, but is testament to the authority’s and the college’s commitment to addressing the climate emergency.

“As an energy and engineering partner, we’ve supported in translating this commitment into a successful project. This unique scheme is just one example of how we can deliver a significant long-term carbon reduction safely and with minimal disruption to the site’s operation in a live school environment.”



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