Work is under way on a tunnel link under the M5 that will connect Exeter Science Park to a green energy heating system.
The District Heating Network, provided by E.ON Energy, has been designed to provide an integrated system covering the East Devon site and housing developments in Monkerton.
Local heat networks operate out of two energy centres – one in the north-east corner of Exeter Airport which also serves Cranbrook and the nearby Skypark.
The second, in Tithebarn Way on the Exeter side of the M5, was recently completed and will supply customers in Monkerton and West Clyst.
When the M5 connector is completed, the latter will also provide heating and hot water to the science park.
Work on the tunnel under the motorway began on Monday, October 25. The link will enable science park buildings to be connected to the District Heating Network.
Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “Starting work on this tunnel is an important step in this project and I’m pleased to see that this strategic link underneath the motorway will allow us to move forward with plans to connect the energy centre district heating network.
“As we look to reduce carbon emissions in Devon, the district heating network can be connected to new heat sources which are being developed in the area to replace gas fired boilers and provide decarbonised sources of heat.”
East Devon District Council leader Paul Arnott added: “I am pleased to see another key infrastructure element being added into the west end of our district as it continues to integrate energy resources with the east of Exeter. Another welcome piece in the local energy jigsaw.”
E.ON South West general manager Craig Underhill, said: “Crossing the M5 is a key milestone…as it will connect our newly-developed energy centre to the wider network therefore providing lower carbon heat to the entirety of the scheme.”
Councillor Phil Bialyk, leader of Exeter City Council, added: “We welcome this important investment linking the heat Nnetwork in Exeter across the M5 and which is enabling low carbon heating to homes and businesses.”
It is expected that an ‘interconnector pipe’ will provide 20 megawatts of energy to the network from a new recovery plant – planned for Hill Barton business park – by early 2024.