A MASSIVE underground pipe network could see Didcot Power Station share its spare heat with an entire new business park next door.

A water-source heat pump at the plant could produce 16,500 megawatt hours of electricity each year – equivalent to powering 1,375 homes.

Studies have also investigated other potential schemes to supply heat and power to other businesses and even residential developments.

South Oxfordshire District Council has already completed two early stages of feasibility studies and is now asking Government for extra funding.

Council leader John Cotton said: "We are hugely excited by this project.

"We've asked the government for some funding to investigate it further and, if we get that, we will carry out the detailed design and viability work to see if a north Didcot combined heat and power scheme can become reality."

The schemes being looked at would work in the same way as the Headington hospitals pipeline completed in Oxford last year.

The 2.2km heat-sharing pipe between the John Radcliffe and Churchill is saving the hospitals £460,000 a year and cutting 10,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Oxford City Council is now investigating extending that over large parts of the city to save hundreds of other businesses money and cut emissions.

South Oxfordshire said it identified an 'innovative opportunity' to do something similar at Didcot.

Specifically, this scheme would use excess heat from gas-fire Didcot B to heat up water.

That hot water could then be used to heat buildings and generate electricity for the new business park being planned for the old coal-fired Didcot A site.

The authority is working closely with power station operator RWE, land owners, businesses and developers as well as neighbouring Vale of White Horse District Council.

Vale leader Matt Barber said: "Working with RWE and other partners, the initial signs are very positive for building a new energy centre and heat network.

"Using excess heat from power stations has been successful throughout Europe and our Science Vale region has the potential to be one of the first to install this technology in the UK."

Didcot B station manager Neil Scott added: "RWE welcomes the opportunity to investigate innovative ways of providing energy for our homes and businesses of the future.

"We look forward to continuing work with both district councils and supporting the Didcot area in its ongoing garden town plans."

The district councils said they 'hoped to receive government funding this year' to complete financial and technical tests and to create possible designs for the various combined heat and power networks.

Clowes Development Ltd, which submitted a planning application for a business park at the Didcot A site to South Oxfordshire in 2015, has still not had a decision.