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Installing the necessary in-ground heat exchange pipes involved VSL mobilising up to 4 specialised drilling rigs controlled by highly skilled operators, whilst working together with the wider team to drill 130 boreholes down to 205m below ground. The quality of the ground works has allowed the design team to reduce the number of boreholes required by around 25% saving the project carbon, time and cost. A U-shaped pipe has been installed which will enable the heat to be retained in the earth and brought to the surface via a heat pump. The energy can then be transferred to heat water and provide heating for homes and community buildings in the village.

Swaffham Prior is one of the first villages in the UK to install a heating network into an existing community. Currently all the residents in the village rely on stored fuel to provide heating and hot water in their homes. Not only is stored fuel carbon intensive, it makes the village vulnerable to shortages and inflated oil prices. 

The Bouygues E&S team has been working hard to deliver this system which contributes dramatically to CCC’s ambition of reaching Net Zero carbon by 2050, preserving the local environment and reducing the impacts of climate change. Simulation models suggest the heat network will deliver 95% emissions reduction in year one, rising to 96% by 2030 and 99% by 2050.

Miles Messenger Head of Energy Performance Contracting at Bouygues Energies & Services said, “This project is an exceptional example of how a partnership between a forward-thinking local community, a committed local authority and entities of Bouygues Construction can collaborate to deliver our decarbonisation goals. It showcases a variety of technical, commercial and social innovations, which should help to accelerate our transition to net zero carbon. We’re delighted to have had an opportunity to collaborate with our sister company VSL, who brought industry-leading expertise and much-needed capacity to deliver this complex ground-source borehole array installation

Sandro Gomes, Ground Engineering Manager at VSL Systems UK said, “VSL UK are proud to have been involved in the Swaffham Prior project alongside Bouygues Energies & Services, which sees an entire community switching from heavy fuel oil to a decarbonised ground source heat network. We have reduced the CO2 emissions on the project by around 90% with our plant - boring holes measuring over 200m – with drilling equipment running on hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of diesel. We are proud of our continued work in the renewable energy sector.


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Contact : Diogo SIMOES
VSL Engineer
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