The Caerau mine water heat project will cost over a million pounds more to build than first thought, those behind the scheme have said, as they submit a further funding bid to cover it.
The project involves extracting heat from water contained within the flooded former coal mine workings of the Caerau Colliery to provide an energy resource for properties within Caerau.
The scheme is looking to supply 300 homes, community buildings and the primary school in its first phase of development.
It is one of several schemes Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) is working on as part of its role as a “pioneer of renewable energy projects”.
The county is one of three areas in the UK, alongside Bury in Greater Manchester and Newcastle, chosen by the UK Government to facilitate projects that could then be rolled out across the country.
A feasibility study in 2018 showed that water under Caerau was at a consistent temperature of 20.5°C.
In a report which went before BCBC’s cabinet on Tuesday, July 23, officers said work on establishing the commercial position of the project was almost complete.
But they said the findings of the work to date and structural changes within the local authority had resulted in the need to submit revised proposals to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).
It has asked WEFO to increase its grant for the project from £6.5m to £7.3m.
The overall project cost is now £9.7m, £300k more than originally planned.
This includes £6.3m for construction costs as opposed to the initial figure of £5.2m.
While the costs for council staff and travel have now fallen by £1m to £839k, the cost for professional services has increased by £100k to £2.2m and accommodation costs have doubled to £300k.
BCBC is overseeing the project but receives advice and support from a range of partners which include the Welsh Government, British Geological Survey, Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff University and Energy Systems Catapult.
In their report, officers said the mine water would have its heat extracted before it was then transferred to a clean water circuit.
They said: “This water would then be transported via a network of pipes to local energy centres where the temperature would be boosted to the required temperature by ground source heat pumps and then circulated to the residents’ houses.
“The Coal Authority has undertaken a mine water resource assessment beneath the village and this will be validated through further investigations during 2019.
“Hitachi has completed an assessment of local energy supply options for the heat pumps and as an alternative to a grid connection a connection to a local wind farm via a private wire is being explored.”
The scheme is dependent on enough households signing up to it.
At the July 23 meeting, the cabinet member for communities, Cllr Richard Young, said: “The project is directly dependent on people engaging with us and I think they will.
“There was a great deal of scepticism when we first muted the possibility of this which has largely disappeared.
“I think everybody knows what the scheme is about.”
Council leader Huw David added: “I was very heartened to see the outcome of our visits to local primary schools.
“There was huge support from children and young people because they see the value of it as a sustainable way of generating heat.
“This is one of the reasons we are progressing the scheme.
“I’m pleased to say that unlike some local authorities and governments who are declaring climate change emergencies, we are not reacting to the crisis now as we started this back in 2015.
“This is about actions rather than statements.
“We have found a new use for the mines which were the sources of wealth and pride in the past, and the reason that community is there.
“We are the first in the UK- and only the second in the world – to pioneer the first large scale mine water project.”
Local democracy reporter