Low Carbon takes over combined heat and power developer

As part of the deal, Low Carbon will fund a 100MW development pipeline to install district heating systems across the UK.

UK-based renewable energy investment company Low Carbon has acquired a majority stake in Energy Networks Europe (ENE) to fund a pipeline of combined heat and power (CHP) projects.

Low Carbon's undisclosed investment gives it control of ENE, a joint venture that also includes sustainable urban property developer Urbis Living and First Generation, a company which builds and operates energy networks in the UK. ENE was launched to design, build and operate CHP projects for communities and businesses.

Low Carbon has agreed to fund ENE's 100MW development pipeline. It is currently considering 19 district heating projects, the first being in Bedminster that will begin construction at the end of this year. According to Low Carbon, the project is expected to finish in the second half of 2017 and will bring a CHP energy system to around 1,000 homes.

District heating is where a centralised community energy centre uses biomass heaters to direct heat and electricity through a network of pipes, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than conventionally heating. Low Carbon said that heating consumes around 78 percent of energy bills in the UK, and bills have risen 170 percent over the last 10 years. CHP projects can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 percent compared to conventional generation, it said.

“It's a truly exciting time to be investing in the heating and CHP market,” Low Carbon's head of investments Steve Mack said in a statement. “The future lies in well-designed and planned CHP plants which will provide lower energy costs for consumers, contribute to local and national energy security, and ultimately help in reducing carbon emissions.”

Low Carbon has invested over £250 million ($328 million; €298 million) in solar, wind and anaerobic digestion projects. It said it has built more than 317MW of solar projects alone. Other renewable energy companies it has backed include Scottish-based onshore wind developer Hoolan Energy, utility-scale solar photovoltaic developer Inazin Power, utility-scale concentrated solar developer Nur Energie and anaerobic digestion specialist Tamar Energy.