Cheshire East Council has secured £1m of European funding to help establish a community heating pilot scheme.
The European Investment Bank funding will help create the borough's first district heating schemes and accelerate the development of large-scale energy storage combined with smart grid technology.
District heating schemes – also known as heat networks – are a system for distributing heat generated in a central location for residential and commercial heating requirements across a local area. Smart grids are electricity supply networks that use digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage.
The investment will contribute to setting up the heat networks and help fund feasibility studies and development activities to give the pilot programme the best chance of success.
Cheshire East is the first non-city region to receive funding for this type of project and will act as a pilot for similar schemes by other local authorities in the UK and Europe.
This specialist technical assistance grant from the European Union's long-term lending institution was provided under the European Local Energy Assistance (Elena) scheme, managed on behalf of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme.
Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: "Having previously received support from the government for our heat network projects, it is hugely encouraging to obtain backing from the European Investment Bank. This shows we are at the cutting edge of the local energy supply agenda."
Jonathan Taylor, vice president of the European Investment Bank, said: "We are pleased to support Cheshire East's aspirations to reduce energy use and help accelerate the development of innovative local energy projects. This represents the EIB's first support to a predominantly rural borough in the UK and will help to cut energy costs for both residents and local businesses.''
The Elena project is managed by Cheshire East Council's arms-length Skills and Growth Company on behalf of the authority.
Photo caption: Heating scheme stock image