It has been four years since the Stratford site’s transformation from East London wilderness to the host of London’s 2012 Olympic triumph was complete. But for the UK chief executive of the energy company which powered the Games, the area is a blueprint for a new kind of energy system which is only just beginning to emerge. Engie is not a household name but the £32bn French company, formerly known as GDF Suez, is one of the largest power generators in the UK and stands shoulder to shoulder with the Big Six in the business energy supply market. In winning the bid to power the London Olympic Park the company grasped the opportunity to turn its energy supply business on its head and create a model which is being quietly rolled out across the UK from Whitehall to Leeds. The site includes two energy centres and a network of over 11 miles of pipe work which control a small fleet of biomass boilers, combined heat and power plants and water storage units. Mr Petrie explains that biomass provides the steady baseload power needed throughout the day by burning waste wood sourced from UK landscapers at 650 degrees. To meet energy demand over peak demand periods the energy can also be stored in hot water tanks which are topped up using combined and heat and power boilers which run on gas. As a result the Olympic Park is able to generate 75pc of its own energy with carbon emissions 20pc lower than the rest of the UK while using smart technology to keep costs low. It’s a feat Government can currently only dream of achieving at a national level as it grapples with the eye-watering economics of supporting large-scale low-carbon projects and the complexity of shifting households on to smart energy meters. For Engie the shift away from its past as conventional energy behemoth has only just begun. “The first thing is to connect the network across East London. The second is to become more and more involved with the end-user through intelligent systems which can monitor their useage and help customers to optimise their energy use,” Mr Petrie says “Maybe in 10 to 20 years we could be selling something else aside from just energy.”
Yesterday we launched The Green Gas Book.- a series of essays exploring the development of “green gas” (or more accurately, “green gases”), written by experts in the field. This book looks at the range of those green gases – biomethane, hydrogen, bio-substitute natural gas (bioSNG) and biopropane – their uses, benefits and potential challenges in their application. While no one of these green gases is the perfect solution, we may think of them as “10% solutions,” which, together with developments such as district heating schemes, would go a long way towards helping us decarbonise the heat sector. This book was commissioned by Labour’s frontbench energy team and has been produced in co-ordination with the PLP’s energy and climate change committee. We hope that it can serve as an important contribution to policy discussion.
A new report has proposed that the city of Leeds should convert its gas grid to an all-hydrogen version by 2030 in order to test the viability of using hydrogen to help meet national carbon reduction targets. The Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has fronted the H21 Leeds City Gate project, which lays out the blueprints to convert Leeds into a “hydrogen city”. A new feasibility report from the project organisers has established that a switch away from methane would be “economically viable”. NGN has claimed that the city should be considered as it has the optimal size and location for the conversion, which could start in Leeds by 2026 at the cost of £2bn, before being rolled-out nationally.
Exeter Community Energy has been awarded £19,660 to repeat its success with community-owned solar energy by delivering a renewable heat project in Devon. The money will be used to replicate the handful of other community heat projects in the country; will be the first in the south west; and possibly the last Urban Community Energy Fund opportunity as a result of the government’s changing priorities. Exeter Community Energy will be investigating different heat technologies for community buildings including schools and public sector buildings. Sites will benefit from savings on their heating bills, reduced carbon emissions and greater fuel security. Exeter Community Energy will also be running events for the community to explain what renewable heat can offer and gather feedback on people’s interests.
Scotland’s leading housing heat network set to grow with £11 million investment plan. Aberdeen councillors have unanimously backed plans to expand the country’s leading heat network into the south of the city – offering hundreds of homes savings on their energy bills. The combined heat and power scheme is expected to deliver low cost, low carbon energy to at least 350 homes in Torry as well as a primary school, swimming pool, community centre and various commercial properties in the East Tullos Industrial estate. The existing combined heat and power system has reduced the city’s carbon emissions and saved the average electrically heated home up to £18 a week on energy bills – therefore helping thousands of residents climb out of fuel poverty. Aberdeen Heat and Power (AHP) has grown substantially since the initiative began in 2002 and currently provides for 2,361 flats in 33 multi-story blocks and two sheltered housing blocks in Seaton, Tillydrone, Hazlehead and Stockethill and 13 public buildings.
A community centre in Bristol has become host to the first air-sourced district heating system in the country, providing low-carbon heat throughout the winter months. Easton Community Centre’s renewable heating system, which launched on Saturday, uses air source pumps to trap heat from the summer sunshine underground, which will be stored underneath a local park until the winter months when it will be released for use as central heating. The new system will provide enough heat to fully meet demand from the community centre throughout the winter. Although such systems are already in use across northern Europe, this is the first deployment of the technology using air source heat pumps in the UK. The pumps will be powered using excess solar electricity from rooftop panels on the community centre and neighbouring houses. The pilot project, called CHOICES, cost £700,000 to install and was funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change through the department’s Heat Network Innovation fund. Plans are underway to extend the scheme to neighbouring homes within the next few years.
Bristol’s newly elected mayor, Marvin Rees, has approved the city’s first major step towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050, giving the go-ahead for £5m in capital funding to build a low-carbon district heating network to serve the city. The first phase of the heat network, which was approved earlier this week, will supply low-carbon heat to buildings throughout Bristol via a network of underground pipes connected to a number of energy centres, including biomass boilers and gas combined heat and power plants. Over time the city plans to phase out the use of natural gas in favour of renewable alternatives. Meanwhile, work began last year on the first stage, with biomass-fuelled heat centres currently being built to supply businesses and social housing tenants in the Redcliffe area of the city. Under current planning laws, all new building developments in Bristol within a designated “heat priority area” are required to connect to a heat network or be “district heating ready” unless technically unviable. Therefore, the new network scheme is also expected to significantly improve the green credentials of new developments in the city.
The company are committed to providing industry-leading products to help define the future of the renewable heating sector. As an integral part of government’s plans over the next decade, the importance of renewable heating is not to be underestimated since the heat used in UK homes, public buildings, businesses and factories is responsible for around 50% of all energy use. Housing associations all over the country are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint by improving their renewable energy technologies, and the air source heat pump is a big game changer as it requires no new heating infrastructure. Colin Reed, Sustainable Manager for Glasgow Housing Association and one of the partners involved in the development of the 400kW low-carbon heat pump said “We intend to use heatpumps of this scale in our housing stock. We’re looking to deploy in Hillpark Drive. In Glasgow alone we have 127 high rise blocks with over 10,000 properties where district heating is a viable option.”
Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy has been dubbed as the “most eye-catching of exhibits” at an energy conference being held next month in the city. Star Renewable Energy will feature as key home-grown innovator at the event, following the release of its groundbreaking Neatpump technology. Designed in conjunction with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and Scottish Gas, the industrial scale 700kW low carbon district heating solution is 8 metres long and hits temperatures over 60 degrees Celsius. This pushes the boundaries of current heating solutions, and allows the air source heat pump to provide three units of heat for each unit of energy consumed.
Plans to drill a deep geothermal well beneath the city of Aberdeen could deliver heating to thousands of nearby homes and an exhibition centre as Scotland looks to accelerate progress towards its goal of 11% non-electrical heat demand coming from renewable sources by 2020. A Government-funded report suggests that the new demonstration scheme, which would exploit geothermal energy through a pipe stretching almost 1.2 miles into the ground, could help position the region as a global energy hub and heighten the potential of this form of energy for the rest of the UK. Aberdeen City Council says it is “willing to support” a bid to fund the “fracking free” scheme which would provide a decarbonised heat supply to local dwellings and the proposed Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). According to the latest figures from the Scottish Government, Scotland produced enough heat from renewable sources to meet between 3.7% and 3.8% of non-electrical heat demand in 2014 – up from 1% in 2009 but still a long way short of the 11% target set for 2020. Last summer, the Scottish Government released a new policy roadmap which set out its approach to decarbonising the heat system. The Heat Policy Statement outlined a number of new approaches to renewable heat, such as the designation of energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and the funding of feasibility studies into the potential for geothermal energy in Scotland.