Kickstarting the SUNPeople project...

Alongside Plymouth City Council, we have been selected as partners in an exciting new project from Interreg France (Channel) England called SUNPeople. The project will explore new ways to reduce carbon emissions from heating.

Did you know?

In UK, our biggest energy use is for heating, even more than transport or electricity generation. Heating our homes, businesses and industry accounts for 46% of all the energy used in the UK and accounts for 32% of our carbon emissions. Nearly 70% of our heat is produced from natural gas, a fossil fuel. Over three quarters (79%) of the energy we use in our homes is for heating space and hot water, mainly using gas-fired boilers (81%).

Carbon intensity is a measure of how much CO2 emissions are produced per kilowatt hour of energy used. As we have become more efficient in our use of electricity, this now has a similar carbon content to gas. The carbon intensity of heat needs to be reduced by 90% by 2050 to meet our legally binding targets. Therefore, we need to re-think the way we heat our homes and businesses.

Combining solar & heat pumps

A heat pump is a device that takes heat from the ground or air and moves it to another location, such as space in a building. They are able to use a small amount of electricity to generate three or four times the amount of heat. If solar power is used to power the heat pump then we don’t need any fossil fuels to heat our homes!

Unfortunately, these systems are still not so well known in the UK, with a lack of understanding about how to maximise their efficiency through use and maintenance. Whilst heat pumps can have higher upfront costs than gas systems, they can have minimal running costs and low or zero carbon emissions.

How can SUNPeople help?

The SUNPeople project allows us to explore combining solar energy and heat pumps as a heating solution, initially for residential (private and social housing) and commercial premises. It will test the idea of providing an energy service approach, in which the capital and maintenance costs are covered by another organisation, to encourage the use of these innovative systems and improve the way we heat space and water.

Using pilot sites in Plymouth and Lorient, the project aims to demonstrate this concept as a cost-competitive, sustainable heat energy service. It includes the development of the optimum technical solution as well as the development of a clear commercial business case. We will engage with a range of market players and stakeholders, from individuals to building owners, supply chains and service providers, to understand the current barriers to implementation and to help develop the best approach. Guidance and resources will be developed for use on other projects.

SUNPeople involves four partners in France and England, focusing principally on the urban centres of Lorient, Brittany and Plymouth. The project is led by Agence locale de l’énergie de Bretagne Sud (ALOEN) and includes Aezeo SARL (France), us and Plymouth City Council (PCC). SUNPeople is funded by Interreg France (Channel) England, and co funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The overall project budget is €497,000, of which Plymouth City Council’s share is €161,000 and Plymouth Energy Community’s €38,000. The project started on 1st August 2019 and will run over a two-year period.

For further information or if you are interested in participating in any engagement workshops, please e-mail

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