Frequently Asked Questions


Who are we?

What is the Exeter Energy Network?2024-01-19T00:21:53+00:00

The Exeter Energy Network is the name of the heat network being developed within Exeter and is operated by Exeter Energy Ltd.

Who is Exeter Energy Ltd?2024-01-22T16:04:52+00:00

Exeter Energy Ltd is the company developing the Exeter heat network and is managed by 1Energy Group Ltd, an experienced independent UK developer at the forefront of Low-to-Zero-Carbon heat networks.

Team members at 1Energy collectively have decades of experience of delivering and operating over 50 heat network projects in the UK.

Exeter Energy Network will sit alongside a 1Energy portfolio of projects currently including Bradford, Rotherham and Milton Keynes.


What is a heat network?2024-01-19T14:46:21+00:00

A heat network is a system of insulated pipes that connect to buildings to provide heat from a central source.  By connecting to a centralised energy centre, buildings can remove the need for individual gas boilers, with their associated impacts on air quality.  Heat networks are the most cost-effective and simple way to decarbonise heat at scale in a city centre because they:

  • Can simply replace the gas boiler in the plant room
  • Once the pipes are in the ground they can connect to any low/zero carbon heating solution – buildings are not locked in to any one technology
  • Have the lowest cost per kW to install for a commercial building, compared to other low carbon heating options such as individual air source or ground source heat pumps
  • A large network with numerous users is more efficient and results in competitive pricing for users
  • All maintenance and replacement costs are included in the energy price, so there are no unforeseen costs
Where will the heat for the EEN come from?2024-01-19T00:26:25+00:00

We will use a Water Source Heat Pump to take heat from water and boost it to the required temperature.

We have contingency measures in place for particularly cold days, or if there’s some reason we can’t supply heat from the heat pumps (such as maintenance). Our Energy Centre will also have gas boilers that will automatically kick in so there is no loss of heat to connected buildings.

Currently, gas boilers are the most cost-effective way of providing this backup, but our intention is to move away from the use of gas as early as feasible.

We’re investigating other opportunities for heat generation. We have committed to the Exeter Energy Network being Net Zero by 2030, so we’re also considering other sources of heat such as geothermal, renewable gas, hydrogen and electro-boilers.

What is a Water Source heat pump?2024-01-19T15:29:48+00:00

A Water Source Heat Pump (WSHP) is like the heat pump in your fridge. It is designed to extract heat from one place (inside the fridge) and move it elsewhere (usually out the back of the unit).  A heat pump, whether air or water, uses the principle of moving heat from one place to another, where the heat is concentrated and turned into useable heating which is transferred via insulated pipes around the network.

Whilst this process uses some electricity, the amount used is far less than using electricity as a direct source of heating. Consequently, as a heat pump uses energy that is already present in the environment (water, heated by the sun and earth in this case), the system itself does not burn any fuel and therefore emits no carbon dioxide.

Can I connect to the Exeter Energy Network?2024-01-23T10:25:39+00:00

We’re currently focusing on large consumers of heat in the city and we are interested in talking to owners of commercial premises and blocks of flats.  If you would like to register your interest in a potential connection, please contact Exeter@1energy.uk

In time we will be investigating the potential to connect to individual homes but this isn’t happening at present.

What are the requirements for connecting a building to the EEN?2024-01-19T11:13:48+00:00

A building will need to have a “wet” heating system, i.e. heat emitters such as radiators throughout the building connected by pipes to a central plant room, typically housing a gas boiler. However, while this is the main requirement for connecting to the heat network, we would need to carry out a survey to understand if any further changes to a building’s heating system are required.

As a rule of thumb, newer buildings will be simpler to connect as the systems are already set up to run at the kind of temperatures served by the network. However, each building will vary so we would need to carry out a survey to understand what changes would be required in your building to make a connection.

What if you can’t produce heat? What is the back up?2024-01-19T11:14:17+00:00

If the weather is particularly cold or there is a long term interruption to the electricity supply to the heat pumps, then we have back up heat. We will have back-up gas boilers which can take over the water heating if necessary as well as three thermal heat stores – big bodies of hot water – that can supply additional heat capacity. These will be on site at the Exeter Energy Centre.


What are the benefits of using Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs) for heat networks?2024-01-19T11:27:04+00:00

In 2010, the Environmental Audit Committee   said the cost of health problems linked to air pollution was likely to exceed £8 to £20 billion.  Using heat pumps to generate heat for the EEN will make a significant contribution to improving local air quality in Exeter. By avoiding the need for individual fossil fuel use in each building we can significantly reduce the gases and particles that are harming our health.

And let’s not forget the climate crisis – buildings which are connected to our network will initially reduce their carbon emissions by 80% in comparison to using conventional heating sources such as gas boilers. The network offers a great way for organisations in Exeter to reduce the carbon emissions of their heating significantly, to help meet their net zero targets.

Construction and Highways

When will the heat network be up and running?2024-01-19T11:44:03+00:00

The network will start supplying heat to buildings in 2026. Phased construction is expected to begin in 2024.

How will the installation of the network affect traffic in the city?2024-01-19T11:44:33+00:00

During the installation phase we will be working in parts of the highways network to install our underground pipes. We recognise any roadworks can be unwelcome so we’re working closely with the Devon County Council Highways team to identify the best routes to minimise disruption. Once we have agreed the route we’ll publish details of any works well in advance and we will be engaging with local residents and businesses to make sure they understand potential impacts and alternative routes.

Once the network is installed someone walking or driving through the city won’t even notice it, and it will go on serving the city with low carbon heat for many years to come.

Which routes might you take for the pipes?2024-01-19T11:45:10+00:00

The exact routes are still under consideration but we are looking to minimise disruption and hold ups as far as possible. The process involves trenching insulated pipes in the road which will require some traffic management but this will be set out in a formal traffic management plan nearer the time.

I have a business in Exeter – will you be digging up the roads?2024-01-19T11:45:35+00:00

Yes, see above – but again, we are seeking to minimise any impact to local businesses and residents. The programme is at the exploratory stage, and we will liaise extensively with communities and commercial premises in advance. When we have more information we will let people know as soon as possible.

Will you employ local people to construct the heat network?2024-01-23T10:27:18+00:00

We hope so and recognise the importance of local skills and training in the project.  We will soon be holding supply chain events and we are exploring job fairs. In the meantime, if you’re interested in supplying services you can let us know about them via email Exeter@1energy.uk.

We will publicise the construction and procurement programme once more details are finalised.

Are there any apprenticeship opportunities?2024-01-19T11:46:33+00:00

Yes. At the moment we are actively talking with Exeter College about how apprentices could be involved. More information should be available shortly so please do check back regularly.


Where’s the money coming from?2024-01-19T14:41:57+00:00

The heat network in Exeter will be developed with a mix of private and public funds. Approximately a third of the investment will be from grant funding through the Government backed Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF), and two-thirds from private investment, through our partners Asper Investment Management.

Asper has supported businesses across Europe to build sustainable infrastructure. It has invested in several heat network businesses like the Bradford Energy Network, and in the development of heat networks in both Sweden and the Netherlands. Asper plans to invest several hundred million pounds into heat network projects in the UK over the next 5-10 years, including more than £70 million into the initial phase of the Exeter Energy Network.


How will the Exeter Energy Network benefit Exeter?2024-01-19T11:59:35+00:00

The Exeter Energy Network (EEN) will create a range of benefits across employment and training, health and the environment. It will also help Exeter achieve its carbon reduction ambitions.

Skills and training2024-01-19T11:59:52+00:00

Up to ten apprenticeships will be created each year during the construction phase to deliver new skills into Exeter, and it is also intended that local jobs would be created during the operation phase. We are working closely with Exeter College and other stakeholders to ensure we maximise opportunities for local job creation.

Supply chain2024-01-19T12:00:08+00:00

The project has a focus on local employment and local services where possible. Using local service suppliers helps us reduce our own carbon footprint for the project. It enables resilience and ensures we get the best value for money, as we are not paying for transport and accommodation for companies outside the area. We will need to deploy some specialist technical support but where possible the project commits to local suppliers.

Air quality2024-01-19T12:00:29+00:00

Fossil fuels are a significant contributor to poor air quality. Every time they are used for heat and transport, their combustion produces fine particulates that can affect air quality. So by removing the need for individual gas boilers in commercial buildings in the city centre we’ll be avoiding the localised burning of fossil fuels for heating, and this will improve air quality in the city.

Net zero2024-01-19T15:31:34+00:00

The proposed heat network would make a significant contribution to the achievement of net zero for Exeter. The EEN will reduce emissions in Exeter by approximately 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year in phase one.

A heating network provides the most economical option available for decarbonising heating in Exeter, for both the public and the private sector, with costs being around 30% cheaper than the most economical alternative zero-carbon heating option available.

Inward investment2024-01-19T15:32:17+00:00

The drive towards low carbon is impacting all aspects of business and commercial development. By providing this alternative heating method, and by offering a secure, local, heating source, Exeter can improve its competitiveness. It will make the city more attractive to inward investment, employers and companies – boosting clean growth.

The EEN will speed up the pace of decarbonisation as the simplest method of securing low carbon heating for buildings. We do almost all the work to connect the buildings to the EEN, and the method of connection is a simple replacement of the boiler with a heat network connection (other methods require each building owner to figure out how to decarbonise their building themselves).
The EEN will enable developers to meet the building regulations and local planning conditions at a lower cost, making it more attractive to build developments in Exeter than in other cities that do not have a heat network.

The network would become a major pillar of Exeter as a leading city in the battle against climate change, engaging developers and demonstrating Exeter’s credentials as the country’s leading clean growth district. The benefits of the EEN are also likely to prove attractive to potential new employers looking for an effective way to procure clean, reliable and cost-effective heating.