Construction work on an ambitious project to bring cheap energy to central Glenrothes could begin next year.
A formal planning application has been submitted to Fife Council for the construction of the proposed Glenrothes Energy Network project.
The £17.1 million initiative, spearheaded by the local authority in conjunction with energy firm RWE and the Scottish Government, aims to supply low carbon heat to a range of businesses, public sector premises and homes through a vast network of underground pipes.
Ross Tulloch, programme manager for the Glenrothes Energy Network, said that getting to the planning permission stage was a huge step for the project.
“Submitting the full planning application brings us one step closer to offering clean, affordable energy to Glenrothes town centre,” he said.
“Design and preparatory work on the programme continues apace.
“By the end of the year we’ll know if this project’s progressing to the installation phase and work should begin early in 2018.”
Hundreds of homes and dozens of local businesses could benefit from the scheme, which would see a network of underground pipes installed to supply low-carbon heat to buildings in the town centre area.
It will take advantage of the current heat capacity from the RWE Markinch biomass plant and energy could be provided to the council’s buildings at Fife House and Rothesay House as early as January 2019.
A further 327 homes have also been identified as potential beneficiaries, as well as the Rothes Halls and local library, major retailers, a social and community club and a local church.
Preliminary work has already been carried out in the town, with eight trial pits and 10 bore holes dug throughout the town earlier this summer.
While the project will initially focus on the town centre, further phases could see the network expand to more homes and to the south of the town, as far as Pitteuchar West Primary School, Fife College and the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre.
The Scottish Government has awarded a grant of £8.5 million from its Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme to the project, with Fife Council and RWE providing the rest of the funding.