Camden Town Hall. Photograph: Camden Council

A now fully operational heat network in Somers Town is being showcased as a “great example” of decarbonisation efforts continuing apace in the borough.

District heat networks operate through underground pipes carrying hot water across large areas, removing the necessity for individual boilers or electric heaters in the homes they serve.

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP recently toured the Somers Town site, which is the first network completed which received Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) support, a government programme offering £320m for projects in England and Wales.

Councillor Adam Harrison, the Town Hall’s cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “Somers Town Energy is a project designed to reduce borough-wide CO2 emissions whilst also improving the energy efficiency of heat supply to residents in Somers Town.

“The climate emergency is the most serious threat that our planet and its people face. Camden is committed to leading radical action, doing what we can to address this threat. Carbon dioxide emissions in Camden have fallen by over 40 per cent over the last 10 years, but we know we need go further and more urgently. Last year we declared a climate emergency and committed to doing everything we could to make Camden a zero-carbon borough by 2030.

“In June of this year the council approved a Climate Action Plan that proposes a five-year programme of projects and activities around the themes of People, Places, Buildings and Organisations that deliver on 17 Citizens’ Assembly recommendations and bring to life the vision of a zero carbon Camden. This will be the first of two plans to 2030.

“We will only achieve this by working together with strategic and local partners and Somers Town Energy is a great example of this in practice.”

Initiated by the council, the project, delivered by sustainable energy company Vital Energi, saw the installation of a heat network connecting four estates serving 339 homes in 2015, along with a combined heat and power engine connected to the Mayford estate.

A council deal will see electricity generated by the new energy centre supplied to the Francis Crick Institute through a special connection, which will aim to provide long-term revenue for the network.

HNIP funding enabled Phase 2 two years ago, letting 184 other homes and a primary school connect to the heat network for affordable low carbon energy.

Ken Hunnisett, project director at Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management, said: “It was a real pleasure to visit one of our operational sites with the minister. It is vitally important that we showcase our completed networks as they provide case the studies for future schemes to learn from.

“While government and industry can continue to provide investment, resource, direction and drive it is the real-world, hands-on experience and passionate advocacy of the sector’s early adopters such as those at Camden Council that help bring the opportunity before us into sharp focus.

“While it was fascinating to learn about the technical and architectural challenges that the team had overcome, it was the pride in being able to deliver an outstanding service to an evidently close-knit community that really impressed. Decarbonising heat is one of the greatest challenges we face, and heat networks will inevitably be an important part of our net zero journey.

“We are proud to help this market grow and support schemes to ensure they continue to inspire and encourage others to consider this community-focused, technology-agnostic, low-carbon heating solution.”