A case study in the City of London has highlighted the value and capacity of district heating and cooling systems in providing low-carbon energy to help meet the needs of urban areas.
HVN Plus noted how using the refrigerant R1234ze has helped to halve emissions in delivering energy to buildings in the Square Mile, with energy firm E.On installing these as part of its efforts to enhance the Citigen energy centre.
The heat itself comes from two sources. One of these is geothermal energy drawn from an aquifer 200 metres below the streets, while the rest comes from the waste heat produced by the existing combined heat and power plant, which would otherwise be lost.
Often such power plants will run on biofuel by converting garden or kitchen waste, an ideal way of recycling an almost inexhaustible local supply of potential energy.
Among the buildings heated by the City of London district heating system are the Barbican arts and residential complex, the Guildhall arts centre and the Museum of London. Overall, the system covers 10km, with 4MW of heating and 2.8 MW of cooling being supplied.
Discussing the system, head of low carbon solutions at the City Energy Solutions branch of E.On Antony Meanwell said: “Tackling the environmental impact of heating, especially in densely populated areas, will be key to meeting the UK’s 2050 net zero targets.”
He added: “By installing heat pump and geothermal technology at Citigen we’re making a powerful statement of what can be done to reduce carbon usage on a large scale.”
Among the features of the system is the use of heat pumps that are designed to help generate heat for the water, delivering this at 80 degrees C. Ironically, the plant providing the heating and cooling energy is located at the former site of the ice store for Smithfield Market.
The further use of district heating systems in London could play a major role in enabling the capital to meet its challenging target of becoming a net zero carbon city by 2030. Mayor Sadiq Khan has stepped up the capitals ambitions to improve its energy use, with the extended deployment of district heating having a significant role to play.
In new plans set out by the mayor this month, based on a study by the Element Energy Consultancy, the way every building is heated and insulated will be a key area of attention. As well as the environmental benefits, Mr Khan said the cost saving to Londoners heating their homes would be a 44 per cent drop from £11.1 billion to £6.2 billion a year.
The report said the work involved in creating district heating systems, as well as other tasks such as fitting insulation, would require 56,000 new jobs in these areas to be created by 2025.
London’s efforts may be matched by cities large and small all over the globe during this decade. A study published by Reportlinker has said the world will see the global district heating system market pass US$200 billion by 2026, with Germany – whose new government includes the Green Party – tipped to see the fastest growth rate in Europe at a CAGR of 3.3 per cent. It remains to see if Britain can match it.
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