Team of experts lead ground-breaking Greenwich ground source heat pump study

25 August 2022

A team of experts has launched a pioneering project in the Royal Borough of Greenwich to assess the feasibility of switching gas-heated, owned-occupied homes in high density areas to low carbon heating in the form of networked ground source heat pumps. 


The aim is to develop an innovative methodology for the coordination of high-density heat pump deployment which will support urban communities switching to a low carbon technology that will reduce energy demand, improve air quality and mitigate against rising energy costs. The work supports Royal Borough of Greenwich Council’s carbon neutral plan to reach net zero carbon emissions in 2030.


The Greenwich Thermal Infrastructure Motivating Electrification (Greenwich TIME) project is funded under  Heat Pump Ready Programme Stream 1,  Phase 1,  which is part of the  BEIS  £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s. 

The partners include: Element Energy, Kensa Contracting, Nationwide Building Society, 

UKPN, OVO Energy, VitoEnergy, Heat Geek and DG Cities.

Networked ground source heat pumps have been identified as the technology Greenwich will use to trial their innovative methodology, if the project be successful in Phase 2 of the programme. Networked ground source heat pumps have the potential to provide the lowest cost, lowest carbon decarbonisation pathway in a majority of situations, especially in high density urban areas, where the model allows whole streets to rapidly switch to low carbon heating technology. 

The key barrier in adopting the technology has traditionally been the cost of installing underground infrastructure needed to extract renewable heat from the ground. The Greenwich project will explore the potential to decouple the up-front capital cost barrier of the ground side installation from customers via financing mechanisms similar to how existing domestic services (such as gas and electricity) are already funded. 

The Greenwich TIME project aims to enable consumers to replace their boiler with a networked heat pump in a way that is affordable and simple to understand and adopt and completed, with minimal household disruption. This can be used as a blueprint for the deployment of heat pumps at scale within other urban communities across the UK - in line with Government targets to have 600,000 heat pumps installed per year by 2028.

Trevor Dorling, Managing Director of DG Cities, said:

“We know from our previous research that there are many hurdles to the widespread adoption of heat pumps. In our recent survey, 70% of people said they were ‘highly unlikely’ to buy one in the coming year. We’re looking forward to working with Greenwich residents to understand, in greater depth, exactly why this is. Our focus will be making sure our heat pump offering is innovative, builds confidence in the technology and reduces the barriers to adoption, including reducing upfront costs to households. We’re part of a great team of project partners, and can’t wait to get started in the borough.”

Sam Foster, Partner at Element Energy, said:

“Achieving widespread rollout of heat pumps in homes up and down the country is key to the UK reaching net zero.  The Government’s Electrification of Heat project has recently demonstrated that heat pumps are technically compatible with essentially all housing types.  The key challenge is now to engage households and bring together the delivery partners – including equipment providers, installers, suppliers and finance – to make heat pumps attractive, affordable and convenient for all.  We are delighted to be working with a brilliant team on the TIME project to develop and test innovative approaches to encourage and enable a heat pump community in the heart of Greenwich.”

James Standley, COO of Kensa Group, said: “We are very excited to be involved in this study of a potential community-scale urban ground source heat pump solution for decarbonising the nations’ heating. Kensa believes that the combination of low carbon technology and renewable infrastructure proposed in Greenwich is a key contender for the lowest system cost route to achieving net zero in the UK, and we are therefore keen to work with the project partners to explore the proposals.” 

Alex Thwaites, Head of Zero Carbon Living, OVO:

“We’re committed to supporting households across the UK to decarbonise their homes, moving the UK further away from reliance on fossil fuels. This project helps us to develop innovative propositions and offerings to support customers living in high density areas, ensuring they don’t get left behind in the energy transition. By working together with the project’s partners we can drive the technological solutions to move us towards zero carbon living.”


Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact:

For Kensa:

[email protected] 

For OVO Energy:

[email protected] 

For DG Cities:

[email protected]

About Kensa:

Established in 1999, privately-owned, and headquartered in Truro, Cornwall, the Kensa Group is a fast-growing collection of award-winning businesses involved in the manufacture and installation of ground source heat pumps and the ownership of associated underground infrastructure.

Now employing over 150 people the Kensa Group wholly owns Kensa Heat Pumps Limited and Kensa Contracting Limited.

Since 1999 Kensa has saved over 1 million tonnes of carbon through ground source heat pump installations across social housing, new build and retrofit homes and businesses.

Kensa Heat Pumps remains the UK’s only manufacturer of ground source heat pumps and is the long-established market leader according to BSRIA annual reports.  It provides products and technical support to an extensive network of plumbing contractors.

Kensa Contracting is a specialist installation business that focuses on large-scale new build and social housing retrofit programmes.  It benefits from unrivalled experience and expertise and has delivered the UK’s largest installations in the residential sector.

Kensa Utilities is an infrastructure asset company that funds, owns and maintains shared ground loops that serve heat pump installations.  It utilises subsidy support to provide these assets at zero cost to the housebuilder or social landlord.

The Kensa Group is partly owned by Legal & General Capital, part of Legal & General PLC.

About OVO:

OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers.  The company has spent the last decade investing in the market leading technology, customer service operations and digital products to help members cut their carbon emissions. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living.

About DG Cities:

DG Cities works with public and private sector organisations to help cities and communities harness the potential of technology to improve people’s lives. Our work spans net-zero housing, decarbonisation, fleet electrification, electric vehicle infrastructure, autonomous vehicles, public engagement, research and much more. Get in touch, follow us on Twitter or our blog to find out about our current projects.


About BEIS:  

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy     

This funding has been made available from the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems. Decreasing the costs of decarbonisation, the NZIP will help enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.   

About the Heat Pump Ready Programme  

Funded through the NZIP, the Heat Pump Ready Programme supports the development of innovative solutions across the heat pump sector. Heat pumps are a key solution for decarbonising homes and will be critical for meeting the UK’s commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The Heat Pump Ready Programme stream 1 phase 1 supports the deployment of heat pumps through the development and trial of innovative solutions and methodologies for the optimised deployment of domestic heat pumps, at high-density, in the UK.  

Heat Pump Ready is being delivered in 3 Streams:  

Stream 1: a 2 phase SBRI competition with up to £30m available toto design and demonstrate innovative, optimised solutions and methodologies which deliver more cost-effective and high-density deployment of domestic heatsupport pumps.  

Stream 2: up to £25m available through a grant funding competition to support the development of tools, technology and processes to overcome specific barriers to domestic heat pump deployment in the UK.  

Stream 3: up to £5m contract to facilitate learning and collaboration within and outside the programme, undertaking research and evaluation activities, and disseminating knowledge, evidence, and lessons to key heat pump stakeholders.