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Sudbury’s Kingfisher Leisure Centre announces major energy savings after world-first pilot of warm water recovery system

Savings of £10,000 have been announced at a Sudbury leisure facility, after a world-first carbon-cutting pilot project that is now set to be rolled out nationwide.

Kingfisher Leisure Centre hailed the success of a year-long trial of a warm water recovery system – the first time it had been piloted anywhere in the world – at its swimming pool in Station Road.

Delivered by Welsh water treatment firm Pwlltec, the system enabled the Babergh District Council-owned centre to conserve 2,000 tonnes of water.

Blake Terry, Katie Robertson, Tim Regester, Daniel Gill, Daniel Potter, John Bostock, Adrian and Jan Osborne
Blake Terry, Katie Robertson, Tim Regester, Daniel Gill, Daniel Potter, John Bostock, Adrian and Jan Osborne

This reduced energy consumption by 47MWh (megawatt hours), with CO² emissions cut by 15 tonnes over the course of the 12-month trial.

It comes after leisure venues across the UK warned last year of the threat of soaring running costs, with the recent rise in fuel prices leading to increased energy bills.

Tracey Loynds, operations director at Abbeycroft Leisure, which runs the Kingfisher, said: “Leisure centres nationwide have been on their knees due to rising bills, so being part of this project to safeguard our valued community asset is an honour.

“The Pwlltec team explained the technology clearly and concisely, while quietly operating it in the background, with little disturbance to our visitors.

“It’s expected that we will receive our return on investment in less than three years, with the system needing very little maintenance as it is fully automated and can be operated remotely.

“In addition, the impact of the scheme will be felt long into the future, since the savings made can be redistributed to ensure energy security across our centre, such as by installing air source heat pumps.

“We hope its success will inspire more organisations to reduce waste in this way.”

The new system works by recycling heated wastewater, while also retaining its temperature and removing any bacteria present – rather than disposing of the water once it passes through the swimming pool filters.

This lessens the cost of having to add new water, and also decreases the energy output from warming it to the required temperature.

The success of the pilot in Sudbury has led to calls for other leisure centres to make use of the system, by applying for a grant from Sport England’s swimming pool support fund to help pay for the installation.

Simon Davison, who oversaw the project during his role as senior environment manager at Babergh District Council, added: “Pools are incredibly expensive to run and they are usually the first resource to be cut amid budget pressures.

“Making energy savings and driving sustainability through this technology will make a huge difference to local authorities trying to keep costs low and should be a priority when it comes to protecting public leisure.”

Daniel Potter, Babergh’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “As a council, we understand the impact that climate change is having on our environment, since reaffirming the climate emergency this year in the new administration.

“With leisure centres being one of the largest sources of CO² emissions for the council, we are keen to embrace innovative new schemes to tackle those emissions.

“These measures form a crucial part of our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, while also showing our commitment to our communities and their wellbeing.”