Leisure centres become carbon neutral

time:2023-06-03 15:57:10 source:Al Jazeera

Heat pumps and solar panels have helped three Wiltshire leisure centres become carbon neutral.

Installations took place at Five Rivers in Salisbury, Corsham's Springfield Campus and the Olympiad in Chippenham.

It was funded with government grants and puts Wiltshire Council on course to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Councillor Ian Blair-Pilling said the centres were "integral" and the council should "lead by example" by improving its environmental footprint.

Five Rivers is one of 20 leisure centres owned and run by Wiltshire Council.

It now has one of the largest air-source heat pumps in the country and is expected to generate approximately £140,000 of electricity a year through its solar panels.

The heat pump works much like a fridge operating in reverse, by transferring heat from outside air into water, which can then heat rooms via radiators or underfloor heating.

It can also heat water being stored in a hot water cylinder for hot taps, showers and baths.

The pump uses less electrical energy than the heat it produces, making it more energy efficient.

Mr Blair-Pilling, from Wiltshire Council, said it was a "big step" to be able to switch off the gas at the Five Rivers site.

"To have that capacity of generating power under our control has got to be a good thing into the future," he added.

Phil McMullen, from the council's energy team, said they were "pretty pleased" with the panels and pumps.

"We've had many other councils contact us who want to come and look at what we've done here and ask questions on how they can achieve it themselves."

However not everyone has been so lucky.

At the Link Centre in Swindon they are reducing opening hours to save money after their energy costs went from around £600,000-a-year to £1.4million.

Barnaby Rich, from Greenwich Leisure Limited which runs the centre, said: "Unfortunately there are pools closing this winter because people can't afford to operate them.

"We've got no plans to close our pools. We are doing everything we can to control consumption.

"We are doing everything we can to reduce our costs and we will weather this storm over the winter."

The work was funded through the government's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

It provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures.

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