Sustainable success at Thurrock as first Kensa ground source heat pump switched on

Sustainable success at Thurrock as first Kensa ground source heat pump switched on

Kensa Contracting and Thurrock Council celebrated an important milestone as the first energy and carbon saving ground source heat pump was switched on. It is one of over 270 residences benefiting from a landmark energy upgrade scheme delivered by Kensa Contracting.

Kensa’s sustainable, low carbon ground source heat pumps are replacing night storage heaters in three social housing high-rise tower blocks at Chadwell St Mary in Thurrock. They are estimated to reduce fuel bills by over 50% for some households, due to them being three times more energy-efficient.

Replacing the night storage heaters with ground source heat pumps will not only reduce running costs by up to £500 per year[1], but also cut carbon emissions by 70%. This will save an estimated 7,080 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the heat pumps — the equivalent of taking 1,540 cars off the road.[2]

Zohra Naeem, 40, from Chadwell St Mary, is the first resident to benefit from the ground source heat pumps being installed for the project. She said: “The new heating system is easy to use, keeps our home warm and is much cheaper than the old system that we had, which took a while to heat the radiators up. The best part is we can use it any time that we need to.

“The contractors also worked nicely, were quick, and tidied up after themselves. Thank you to everyone who has supported us.”

From left to right: Jane Ferrier, Resident Liaison Officer for Thurrock Council, with Zohra Naeem and her daughter and David Dixon, Project Manager at Kensa Contracting

Cllr Luke Spillman, Thurrock Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Getting the first of 273 households at Chadwell St Mary up and running with a renewable heating system is a milestone that should be celebrated. Kensa’s ground source heat pumps are providing residents with reliable, efficient, and future-proofed heating which utilises the natural heat in the ground. This innovative project will help make these homes warmer and greener and drive down fuel bills.”

Ieman Barmaki, Sustainability Director for Kensa Contracting, commented: “The positive impact of this scheme for the residents at Chadwell St Mary and the local community is huge and far-reaching, so we’re delighted to get the new systems up and running.

“Ground source heat pumps are extremely energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly. Not only will they keep tenants warmer for less money, but they also produce no carbon emissions or pollutants, improving the local air quality and environment.”

The successful project which utilises shared ground loop array system architecture demonstrates the potential for ground source heat pumps to rapidly and affordably decarbonise multiple properties at scale. This is a strategically important project, because over 34% of all emissions in the UK are attributed to the provision of heat, and the Government has committed to delivering 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028.

Thurrock Council secured £3.2m from Wave 1 of the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to finance the scheme. The SHDF, a £3.8bn 2019 manifesto commitment, aims to support local authorities and social landlords to retrofit their housing stock at scale over a 10-year period, to improve building’s energy rating to at least a C.

It was recently reported that many projects awarded funding under the first wave of the scheme have got off to a slow start, with under 10% of measures currently implemented.[1]

Iain Carr, Director of Sales – Domestic, at Kensa Contracting, said: “The success of the Thurrock project shows that by working in partnership large-scale retrofit Networked Heat Pump schemes can be successfully undertaken at pace.

“Securing the SHDF award for this project allowed the council to support as many people as possible in the fight against fuel poverty. Central government needs to continue to update current schemes with realistic timeframes, more frequent competition windows, and less bias towards expensive fabric measures, to properly incentivise heat pumps. This is important if we are to achieve the scale of rapid decarbonisation needed for the UK to hit its net zero goals.”

[1] The average running costs of the proposed ground source heating systems for the two-bed Chadwell tower blocks have been calculated to be in the region of £477.00 per annum depending on individual usage. Therefore, when considered against the average annual running cost figures of £1,429.00 for the current storage heaters, it is clear this would deliver significant savings to residents living in these properties.

[2] Based on a 40-year lifecycle and based on carbon factor obtained from SAP 10.1, published 8/11/19.


In December 2022 Lord Callanan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), visited residents from Chadwell St Mary in Thurrock to see the ground-breaking project in action to upgrade the energy performance of a large number of council-owned properties in the borough. You can read about the visit here.


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