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How the heat network works

The heat network at Swaffham Prior uses a combination of three renewable technologies.

How is heat generated


Heat from the air is used to warm the heat network during the summer months.

Ground source

Heat from the earth is used to warm the heat network during the winter months. 108 closed-loop boreholes have 19.643 km pipes running though. Closed-loop boreholes were selected, so there is no water uptake or release into the ground.

Four electric boilers

Available on very cold days or as emergency back-up.

How is heat delivered?

Heat is delivered to each home via an underground network of highly insulated pipes running beneath the streets in Swaffham Prior. In every connected home, a heat interface unit a receives heat from the heat network and transfers it to the radiators and hot water appliances.

What heat temperature is delivered to homes?

The heat temperature delivered to the heat interface unit in homes has been set according to the air temperature outside. When the outdoor temperature is warm, less heat is provided. When the outdoor temperature is cool, more heat is provided, up to 72degC.

Details of the heat temperature is delivered to homes

Why a heat network?

Choosing a heat network for Swaffham Prior had several benefits.

  • Up to 300 homes could change from oil to renewable heating relatively easily, with only a few changes required to individual heating systems.
  • The ability to deliver high temperature heating was suitable for the many older and listed homes in the village which are more difficult to adapt for alternative technologies.
  • The system is adaptable. If new energy sources and technologies are developed in future decades, these can be plugged in to the heat network.
  • The efficiency of a heat network means that energy pricing can be competitive with equivalent electricity or gas costs.
  • The availability of grant funding and project support from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).