District heating system for London homes to use waste heat from the Underground

District heating system for London homes to use waste heat from the ‘Tube’

A district heating system for London is being created using waste heat from the ‘Tube’, its massive underground mass transit network.

The first phase of the project is due to be completed in the coming months, will extend the network to some 450 homes is the Islington borough area.

The first phase of the project is already underway in the borough of Islington already keeps about 700 homes warm by channelling heat created in the Bunhill Energy Centre, which generates electricity, into local council housing, schools and a leisure centre.

The next phase of the project, which is due to be completed in the coming months, will extend the network to a further 450 homes.

The tube project will pave the way for district heating schemes across the capital to warm homes with cheap, low carbon heat from underground lines.

Meeting 38% of London demand

The Greater London Authority (GLA) estimates there is enough heat wasted in London to meet 38% of the city’s heating demands.

Tim Rotheray, director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, said district heating schemes were mushrooming across the UK as a low-cost tool in tackling the climate crisis.

“Almost half the energy used in the UK is for heat, and a third of UK emissions are from heating. With the government declaring that we must be carbon-neutral within 30 years we need to find a way to take the carbon out of our heating system,” he said.

“The opportunity that has become clear to the decentralised energy community is the idea of capturing waste heat and putting it to use locally.”

In urban and industrial settings, waste heat is produced wherever there are cooling systems, thermal power plants or heavy industry. The key to harnessing heat is to use it locally.

The project is one of a growing number of schemes across the UK designed to warm homes using “waste heat” from factories, power plants, rivers and disused mine shafts.

An even greater source of heat lies below many of Britain’s towns and cities: in the geothermal energy trapped in water at the bottom of old mines. Stoke-on-Trent is working on a £52m project to tap energy from hot water deposits deep underground. This will heat conventional water before it is pumped through the network to customers.

In Edinburgh, engineers at Ramboll have developed a plan to create a heat network that uses the water pooled in a vast disused mine as a giant underground thermal battery.

Photo credit: IStock

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August 27, 2019
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