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New models for London's energy networks

Bunhill 2 Energy Centre in Islington, London (Cullinan Studio)

Transport for London is looking at new models of public-private partnership in the area of 'waste heat' and part-funding a PhD with London Southbank University to expand research. Alex Gilbert, at Transport for London, has been talking to Future Cities Forum about this important area of innovation in the capital.

'We have done a huge amount of work to identify all the waste heat across our transport network with live dynamic mapping. We have identified the top few sites from 150 for waste heat, but these need further study to fully understand condition and temperature, in order to answer the question 'what is the asset and what have we got? We have 500 gigawatt hours of waste heat but the challenge is how to get it to homes.'

The work has followed the building of the Bunhill 2 District Heating Network, utilising a London Underground ventilation shaft at City Road abandoned tube station. Islington Council commissioned Ramboll to deliver the network, with the aim of providing cheaper and greener heat to 1,350 homes plus community buildings in north London. Ramboll believes that the heating network is one of the most innovative in the UK, designed to recycle waste heat from the London Underground to provide a low carbon, low cost heat source.

Alex explained TfL's future ambitions:

'Top sites for waste energy are on the older deeper lines like Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo. This year the intention is to engage with the market to see how best to use waste heat across London - and we are working on the evolving models for this. If you are a property developer it would be worth talking to TfL about this'.

'There is a move now to Increase knowledge and expertise across the country in the area of waste heat capture, using the best skills from the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The Dutch are very experienced at this, as they are used to capturing heat from underground. Some of the best examples in the UK come from The Coal Authority. Old coal mines have plenty of trapped heat that could be put to use with new housing developments. Other waste heat sources across the country would come from industrial and commercial transport processes.

'On the aesthetics of energy assets we are very committed to keeping up very high quality design standards. For instance, we are shortly to launch a design competition for rapid charge hubs for electric vehicles.'

Watch out for updates from Future Cities Forum as we record more interviews and discussions on this form of energy innovation.

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