E.ON unveils plans for major expansion of eco-friendly Sheffield heat network

E.ON has announced multi-million pound plans to more than double the size of its district heating network in Sheffield which is served by a biomass power plant.

The district heating scheme in the Lower Don Valley is currently powered by E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows renewable energy plant which uses biomass to provide a source of heating to connected buildings in the Lower Don Valley.

It is intended that up to 10km (6.2 miles) would be added to the current 8km (4.9 miles) pipe network to allow new customers to be connected.

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Chris Lovatt, Chief Operating Officer for E.ON’s Energy Infrastructure Solutions business, said: “Whether it’s combating the climate crisis, cleaning the air in city streets, or weaning the UK off fossil fuels to avoid the impact of volatile global gas markets, we need to find new, cleaner ways of heating our homes and businesses. Heat networks like ours in the Lower Don Valley allow us to do that.

Blackburn Meadows Power Station on the River Don between Sheffield and Rotherham. Picture Scott MerryleesBlackburn Meadows Power Station on the River Don between Sheffield and Rotherham. Picture Scott Merrylees
Blackburn Meadows Power Station on the River Don between Sheffield and Rotherham. Picture Scott Merrylees

“We are the playmakers in creating a more sustainable UK through projects like this, and with Sheffield’s bold steps to become a zero-carbon city by 2050 we’re looking to expand the route of our district heat network to play a role in that ambition. As part of our ongoing investment in the city we’ll be looking to create more than 2,000 green jobs in the region as well as improving public spaces – leaving every space we touch better than when we found it.”

A planning application is due to be submitted by the end of summer, with construction scheduled to start in 2025 and continue until late 2028.

Mr Lovatt added: “If the extension to our network is approved, we’ll be working with local residents, businesses and community groups to deliver initiatives that improve the city: improved pathways and cycle paths, planting trees and shrubs, as well as creating warm spaces and educational workshops.”

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Blackburn Meadows is a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant that became fully operational in 2015. It uses recycled waste wood sourced from within the UK to generate electrical and thermal energy capable of powering up to 69,000 homes and businesses in the South Yorkshire region. It also reduces carbon emissions by up to 65 per cent when compared to natural gas.

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