Law courts to become two of the first in England to be heated by renewable energy

The Bradford Combined Court Centre and Magistrates Court will become two of the first court buildings in England to be heated by renewable energy after signing a landmark deal to connect to the city’s new heat network.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has signed a 20-year agreement to connect the city’s courts to the Bradford Energy Network, a new £70m development which will become one of the UK’s largest low-to-zero carbon district heating network when it starts generating heat in 2026.

Over the course of the two-decade deal, the two buildings are expected to save 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) by connecting to the network.

The Government believes heat networks are vital to making net zero a reality in the UK, as they are often the lowest cost, low carbon heating option for high density urban areas.

The Government’s ambition is for heat networks to supply 20% of buildings nationally by 2050, up from 3% today.

Bradford Council granted planning permission for the Bradford Energy Network last September.

In its initial phases, it will include 8 km of underground pipework that will supply up to 30 major buildings in the city centre.

The network will be one of the largest in the country to use air source heat pumps.

An 8 MW heat pump will be housed in a new energy centre, being built at the junction of Thornton Road and Listerhills Road. The pump can generate enough heat to supply 10,000 homes.

When the network first becomes operational, gas boilers will accompany the heat pump, providing additional heat on the coldest days of the year and acting as back-up and resilience.

However, as part of a commitment to make the Network net zero carbon by 2030, the boiler heat will be replaced by alternative low-carbon heat within four years.

Directors of 1Energy, the company behind the Bradford Energy Network, say connecting to the network will be the most cost-effective way for organisations in Bradford city centre to decarbonise the way they heat their buildings.

To help cover the costs of connecting to the heat network,1Energy and its technical partners, Fairheat, supported the HM Courts and Tribunals Service to secure a £3.5m grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is delivered by Salix Finance and is run by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Bradford is the first of several British towns and cities where 1Energy is developing heat networks with subsequent schemes already in progress in Rotherham, Exeter, and Milton Keynes.

Marissa Granath, project director of the Bradford Energy Network for 1Energy, said: “The Bradford Energy Network is a nationally significant project which will help to build the future of Bradford’s net zero infrastructure underneath the streets of the city centre.”

“Signing a 20-year deal to deliver low-carbon heating to two of Bradford’s largest buildings shows the faith and confidence HM Courts and Tribunals have in the Bradford Energy Network.

Marissa Granath

“There are only two options available to property owners and developers looking to decarbonise buildings in Bradford: a building-scale heat pump or connection our heat network.

“However, connecting to our network is by far the most economical way to decarbonise heat, with total whole-life costs around 30% cheaper than installing individual air source heat pumps on buildings.”

Salix director of programmes, Ian Rodger, added: “We are pleased to be working alongside HM Courts and Tribunals Service on their innovative decarbonisation journey.

“This is an exciting project and demonstrates the value that local collaboration and partnerships can have in delivering on our net zero goals.”