Delivering new energy choices

for residents & businesses 

in Colchester

Northern Gateway Heat Network

About this Project

The Northern Gateway Heat Network is a flagship low carbon district heat system that will be the largest of its type in the UK.

Colchester Amphora Energy Ltd is developing this innovative low-carbon heat network in partnership with Colchester City Council (CCC). It will supply heat to homes, offices and healthcare facilities at Colchester’s new Northern Gateway development.

This flagship project uses an open loop ground source heat pump as the primary heat source to provide a low carbon heat solution to residents, businesses and other commercial users.

In total, the scheme will provide heat to 200 houses, 450 flats, 35,000 m² of office space and 9,000 m² of healthcare facilities. The first new homes are expected to be available from the Spring of 2023.

The project is the first of its kind to be used on this scale in the UK, using a confined chalk aquifer, and will deliver 5.5 GWhrs of heat a year with 75% of hot water for heating and washing being generated by the heat pump.

This significant flagship project is a key element in meeting the Council’s climate change ambitions and has the support of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through a £3.45m Heat Network Investment Project grant.


The low carbon district heat system will pump water out of the ground at 13 degrees centigrade from boreholes 135 metres deep into the chalk aquifer below site, pass it through a heat pump which abstracts 8 degrees of heat and then put the water back into the aquifer.

The heat abstracted from the borehole water is concentrated to 65 degrees and then piped to all the buildings on the development for hot water and heating and will provide 75% of the heat demand when the new development has been built out. Gas boilers provide additional heat on cold winter  days and are for back up.

Key Features

+ The primary heat source will be an 800kW open loop water-source heat pump utilising five 135 metre boreholes into the chalk aquifer 75 metres below ground level. 

+ There is over 550m separation between abstraction and re-injection boreholes. 

+ Heat is supplied to houses and offices via a pipe network and a heat interface unit (HIU) with a heat meter marking the change between the Heat Network and house/office systems. 

+ Heat is charged by a small daily standing charge and per kilowatt of heat used, in the same way as gas or electricity is charged. 

Benefits of this Project

+ The project will deliver approximately 5.5 GWh of low carbon heat per year when the Northern Gateway development is complete, this equates to about 75 % of the total heat required. This technology is seen as potentially an important part of reducing carbon for the heating of homes and offices. 

+ Value for consumers: A district heat network can offer extremely competitive and stable energy prices over the long term and a centralised heat source is more efficient in carbon savings than individual boilers. 

+ Renewable heat networks support Colchester’s local sustainability aims to become a greener and eco-friendlier place to live, work and play.  

Latest News

Robert Hull appointed by CAEL as Non-Executive Director

Robert Hull appointed by CAEL as Non-Executive Director

Colchester Amphora Energy Limited (CAEL) is delighted to announce the appointment of Robert Hull, as a new Non-Executive Director to the CAEL Board. CAEL, a company wholly owned by Colchester Borough Council, is responsible for the promotion and delivery of low carbon...

Colchester Borough Council scoops prestigious MJ Award

Colchester Borough Council scoops prestigious MJ Award

Colchester Borough Council is celebrating today (2 October 2020) after winning a prestigious prize at a national awards ceremony honouring the very best of local government services and staff throughout the UK. The council was named ‘Best Commercial Council’ in the...

About Amphora Energy

Colchester Amphora Energy Limited (CAEL) is an Energy Company, promoting the use of more low carbon sources of heat and power through a range of projects and initiatives, delivering new energy choices for people in Colchester.

CAEL has experience within the energy sector and is currently building an innovative and highly sustainable district heat network to the north of the city, at Colchester Northern Gateway.

Colchester Amphora Energy is wholly owned by Colchester City Council

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