Heat from London Underground to warm 500 homes

Sensemaking / Heat from London Underground to warm 500 homes

An EU-funded scheme aims to provide low-cost heating for Londoners.

By Futures Centre / 11 Dec 2013

A journey on the London Underground is hot and sticky at the best of times. Now, a waste heat recovery scheme hopes to make it worth the sweat by finding good homes for all excess warmth.

The unnamed scheme – which has received £2.7m funding from Islington Council and a further £1m from the European Union – will capture excess heat from a vent at a Northern line station. From there it will be piped into the Council’s Bunhill Heat and Power centre, which already captures secondary heat generated by a local power station, using it to warm 700 homes in the borough. The added heat from the Underground will provide warmth for a further 500 properties.

The project is part of CELSIUS, an EU-wide initiative dedicated to implementing practical solutions to smart city heating and cooling. By putting a low-cost and readily available source of heat to good use, the scheme offers a smart response to rising energy price rises and brings a fresh perspective to growing debate around how best to tackle fuel poverty as winter sets in.

“Recovering waste heat and using it to warm incoming air or water can significantly improve the efficiency of boilers, heat pumps and [other] equipment”, explains Paul Huggins, Associate Director of The Carbon Trust.

Similar projects have been launched on a smaller scale in Stockholm and Paris. The latter saw heat transferred via a staircase; Paris Habitat, the social housing organisation behind it, said that the project wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for this feature, as it would have been too costly to build passages to convey the heat from the metro to the 17 flats. The London scheme provides further indication that the technology can be replicated successfully.

The city hopes to see a 60% drop in  emissions by 2025, and Islington Council expects the scheme to reduce emissions by 500 tonnes COa year. According to Huggins, research by the Trust “has shown that for [a majority] of industrial processes recovering waste heat can reduce sector-level carbon emissions by between 3-7%”. He says that “each year between 10-40TWh is lost from industrial processes alone [and] to put that into context 40THw is roughly what the entire food, drink and tobacco manufacturing industries in this country use annually”.

He believes emissions could be reduced by 750,000 tonnes a year, a process further schemes that capture excess heat would help to speed along. – Rich McEachran

Photo credit: ultraforma/iStockphoto

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