More than 1,350 homes, a school and two leisure centres in Islington are to benefit from a new energy centre that is harnessing waste heat from the London Underground tube network.
The Bunhill 2 Energy Centre was launched today (5 March), to build on an existing Bunhill Heat and Power district heating network, launched in Islington in 2012. The existing centre provided low-carbon heat to two leisure centres and more than 800 homes. Now, the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre adds 550 additional homes to the system, with the potential to supply up to 2,200 homes.
The Bunhill 2 Energy Centre is placed in the disused underground station of City Road. It features an underground two-metre fan which extracts warm air from tunnels on the Northern Line train route. The warm air is used to heat water that is pumped across the local neighbourhood through a new 1.5km network of underground pipes.
Heating bills for council tenants connected to the network will be cut by 10% compared to other community-based hating systems, which can cost half as much as individual systems for homes. Those connected will also have their emissions reduced by 500 tonnes annually.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s great to see this highly innovative project up and running, recycling waste heat from the Tube to provide a low-carbon, affordable way of heating local homes and businesses. I’ve set London the target of being carbon-neutral by 2030.
“It’s an ambition that will require innovative projects like Bunhill to help deliver it. If we’re truly going to tackle the climate emergency we will need progressive partnerships between local authorities, City Hall, TfL and others as was demonstrated so perfectly by this project.”
The nearby Moreland Primary School is the first school to be connected to the network, and joins the pool and facilities at Ironmonger Row Baths and Finsbury Leisure Centre in being connected to the system.
The energy centre will deliver additional benefits by feeding green electricity into the London Underground network and a nearby tower block to power lighting and lifts. The fan can also be reversed to help cool the Tube during the hot summer months.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This pioneering project recycles heat that was simply being lost to the environment. We are cutting carbon emissions in a way that also reduces people’s energy bills, helping us to help them at a time when the cost of living is soaring.
“Not only is this contributing to Islington’s commitment to be a net-zero carbon borough by 2030, but this initiative also helps to reduce fuel poverty and make Islington a fairer place, while offering our communities a sustainable, cheaper and greener future. I’m very proud of this exciting project, which promises to make a real difference to residents and the environment.”
Islington isn’t the only area investing in low-carbon heating. Bristol’s aim to achieve carbon neutrality has seen £10m funnelled into expanding a heat network in the area.
Bristol City Council – controlled by Labour – officially declared a climate emergency in November 2018. That motion was unanimously passed and now acts as the foundations for the City’s transformative commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2030.
The Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP) funding will see the city’s heat network expand. It currently supplies more than 1,000 properties with low-carbon heat from a variety of sources. The funding has been provided by BEIS.