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The Project and Programme

What is the project about?

CommuniHeat is a partnership between the people of Barcombe, local community energy group Ovesco, engineering practice Buro Happold and electricity distributor UK Power Networks to develop the roadmap which aims to understand how rural communities can switch to low-carbon heating using electricity in a way that ensures comfort, affordability and a smooth transition.

In our race against Climate Change, it’s vital we all understand the pros and cons of a planned transition to low-carbon heating versus the unplanned approach by individuals. CommuniHeat will write the book on how communities can achieve this over the next 10 years so that we can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

By working collaboratively with Barcombe, CommuniHeat aims to ensure the roadmap to low-carbon heating will be achievable, affordable, inclusive and comfortable. It will be developed to be applicable to all communities.

Why are you doing this?

We are doing this because we have to be prepared and support rural off gas grid communities to transition towards net zero.

CommuniHeat is a groundbreaking project which will help us understand how to develop the approach needed by communities to ensure a seamless and affordable transition to low-carbon heating. To meet our 2050 target for net zero carbon emissions, we have to change the way we heat our homes over the next 10 years. There are many aspects to consider not least how to select the right technologies, ensure our homes can be heated affordably whilst maintaining reliable and resilient electricity infrastructure. There is also the potential for many additional benefits including community ownership of local energy and new ways to pay and even be paid (!) for the energy we use.

How will this project work with those homes which are rented?

If you live in a rented property, you will need permission from your landlord to undertake a home energy assessment.

What will you do with the data you capture?

CommuniHeat will use the real data from Barcombe to feed into modelling exercises which look at electricity network infrastructure requirements, local energy generation, viable heating options and ways to finance a low-carbon heating solution for all. This data shared with partners will be anonymised and be fully compliant with GDPR.

What’s the timeframe?

CommuniHeat is a one year programme which began November 2020 with 6 months data capture and 6 months developing the roadmap. Once the roadmap is complete, how that’s rolled out and implemented will be the next phase to deliver.

Where do I find out about it?

We hosted webinars on 14 Dec 20 for the people of Barcombe to meet the team and ask any questions.
We will continue to write articles in Barcombe News.
We will deliver information to every home in Barcombe as the project progresses.
We will put up posters within the Village Shop and Community Notice boards about future events.
And our website has now gone live and will be updated as needed.

In the meantime, if you have any queries please call Ovesco on 01273 472405, email, or head over to our Contact page.

Who do I contact for more information?

If you have any queries please call Ovesco on 01273 472405, email or head over to our Contact page.

Will you involve local people in making CommuniHeat happen?

Absolutely. CommuniHeat will create jobs locally and we will be recruiting for those jobs very shortly.


Will this cost me anything to take part?

Participating in CommuniHeat will cost you nothing, and the resulting roadmap for guiding rural communities on how to transition to low-carbon heating will have been done collaboratively with the people of Barcombe. Part of that process will be to make sure the roadmap is achievable, affordable, inclusive and comfortable.


What is the Government’s latest policy on switching from fossil-fuel to low-carbon solutions for heating and transport?

Government says we are going electric with no new fossil-fuel housing by 2023 and no new fossil-fuel cars by 2030.

How much carbon does fossil-fuel heating generate in the UK?

Fossil-fuel based heating accounts for around a third of UK carbon emissions (domestic heat contributes 18%), making decarbonising heat a vital part of the UK’s legally-binding commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

What low-carbon options are there for heating homes?

The optimal solutions to low-carbon heating in rural communities will be guided by science as well as looking at what’s the most cost effective, least intrusive and achievable.
Those options can include:
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels – these collect sunshine and turn it into electricity, situated on your roof or on the ground
Solar farm – this is a solar PV farm, it will collect sunshine, turn it into electricity to be used locally to be used in houses or businesses or to charge cars
Solar thermal – used to heat domestic hot water to use in baths, showers and for washing up
Wind turbines – produce electricity to be used in homes, businesses or for charging cars
Heat pumps – these can be either air source (taking the latent heat from the air) ground source or water source
Hydrogen – not suitable to villages off the gas grid
Biomass – this may be a room heater wood burner or a boiler run by logs or wood pellet
Anaerobic digestion – this process can produce biogas and electricity
Hydro – this can produce electricity for use in homes and businesses and to charge cars.

Will power points for electric cars also be included as part of this project?

No, but we will do research onto projected electric vehicle take up.

Planning & consents

What is the Government doing to ensure new builds use low-carbon heating options only?

Government has mandated that no new homes after 2023 will have fossil-fuel heating.

How will low-carbon heating options work for listed properties?

There are a few options for properties which are listed, for example biomass or heat pumps.

How will low-carbon heating options work for those homes within conservation areas or National Parks?

Generally renewable heating systems do not need planning permission.


Who will install energy monitors and undertake the surveys?

Our local Energy Champions will be installing the energy monitors, supported by our home energy expert partners Forest Row Energy and by technical consultants Passive Systems.

How long will an energy monitor be in place?

An energy monitor will be in place from a few weeks to 6 months.

How long will it take to do a full energy use survey, looking at every room, and how long before receiving a report?

For a full energy survey we will measure each of your rooms and it will take 2-3 hours. The report should be available to you within a few months.

How long will it take to do a home only energy use survey?

A home only survey will measure the outside walls of your house and take less than 2 hours.

Who will create the roadmap?

All partners involved will play a part in creating the roadmap. The technical development will be driven by Buro Happold.

Can we see an example of something similar?

We believe that this is the first project of its kind. However Buro Happold will be showing a visualistion which will be available on the CommuniHeat website in due course.

Will any data captured from our home be kept confidential?

Absolutely. CommuniHeat will be GDPR compliant.

Once people have been given a survey, what happens if they want to press ahead and convert to low-carbon heating anyway?

If people want to press ahead and convert to low-carbon heating anyway, the energy assessment will provide recommendations and Ovesco and our local Energy Champions will support the households to do this, although this would not be part of the project.

Will you want homes which already use low-carbon heating to take part?

Yes we will because it will give us a rounded understanding of the village and provide excellent case studies.

What do I do if my community wants to participate in this project?

If you are within 10 miles of Barcombe and so within Lewes District Council or Wealden District Council, please let us know so that we can take a look at this and come back to you. Please contact Cally Southern on if you would like to hear more from us.

What do I do if my community wants to run a project like this in our area?

Anyone interested in taking part in this type of project should register their interest with Community Energy South.  This project has just begun, we will be reviewing progress in Spring 2021 and our plan is to write the book for this project to be rolled out to other areas.   Please contact Cally Southern on if you would like to hear more from us.

Safety and security

What are your COVID protocols to keep people safe when going into our homes to set up monitors and doing surveys?

Our COVID protocols to keep people safe when undertaking surveys are to use hand sanitiser before going into peoples homes, we would ask that you are not in the same room as our Energy Champion, and the Energy Champion will wear a mask.

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what you’re looking for?

Contact our team with your question and we’ll endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

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