London project puts waste heat to good use

19 December 2013
By Lorna Sharpe
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Bunhill Energy Centre heats local homes and facilities

Bunhill Energy Centre heats local homes and facilities

Waste heat captured from underground railway tunnels and an electricity substation will be used to warm homes in a London borough, in a scheme that is the first of its kind in Europe.

The project is a partnership between Islington Council, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, UK Power Networks and Transport for London (TfL). It will be run through the Council’s Bunhill Heat and Power heat network, which opened in November 2012 and supplies more than 700 homes and a leisure centre with heating.

Under the new project the network will be expanded to capture two local sources of waste heat, one from a London Underground ventilation shaft and the other from a sub-station owned and operated by UK Power Networks. At the same time a further 500 dwellings will be connected to the heat network.

Councillor Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability, said: “Recycling heat from London Underground and the electrical network are exciting new ideas and a boost to our work to tackle fuel poverty and make Islington a fairer place. This cheaper energy scheme is greener too – local communities will see CO2 emissions drop by around 500 tonnes each year.”

Martin Wilcox, head of future networks at UK Power Networks, said: “We are carrying out a feasibility project exploring the potential to capture waste heat from one of our high-voltage electricity substations and use it to warm homes for the first time. If it is successful there could be potential to replicate this and increase access to low-carbon, low-cost energy in the capital.”

This demonstration project has been funded by £2.7m from Islington Council, which owns the network, and £1m from the EU, with backing from the Mayor, UK Power Networks and TfL/London Underground.

Earlier this year Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan said in an IET lecture that they had considered taking heat generated by the piston effect of trains in the new line’s tunnels and selling it to the buildings above.

They concluded that the novel technology would introduce too much risk into the project, but investigations are continuing and the idea could be taken into future programmes such as HS2.

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