Waste heat from the Tube will help to warm hundreds of homes

A pioneering new deal announced today will capture waste heat from London Underground tunnels and an electrical substation to help warm homes and cut energy bills.

The project – the first of its kind in Europe – is a partnership between Islington Council, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, UK Power Networks and Transport for London.

The scheme will be run through Islington Council’s innovative Bunhill Heat and Power heat network, which already supplies more than 700 homes in Islington with greener heating and is set to reduce the costs of heating for local people.

Under the new project the network will be expanded to capture and utilise two local sources of waste heat, one from a London Underground ventilation shaft and the other from a sub-station owned and operated by UK Power Networks. The expansion will also see at least a further 500 homes connected to Islington’s heat network.

London Underground generates large amounts of heat, which will be captured from a nearby Northern Line vent and piped into the heat network which warms local homes.

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor of London’s Senior Advisor on Environment and Energy, said: “We need to do everything possible to create a more secure, cost-effective and sustainable heat and power supply for London. By supporting locally sourced energy and heat networks which can reduce bills and lower carbon emissions, we can not only save money but also drive innovation, jobs and growth in this burgeoning sector.”

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of the Council, said: “The expanded Bunhill Heat Network will cut energy bills for hundreds more local people.With energy prices going up and up, it’s vital we do what we can to cut bills.  It’s all part of the Council’s work to help people manage the rising cost of living. Last winter was one of the coldest for decades and record energy prices meant many families on fixed incomes spent it in misery, unsure whether to heat or eat.”

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability, said: “Recycling heat from London Underground and the electrical network are exciting new ideas and a boost to our work to tackle fuel poverty and make Islington a fairer place. This cheaper energy scheme is greener too – local communities will see CO2 emissions drop by around over 500 tonnes each year.”

The Mayor of London is keen to encourage more locally produced heat and power from smaller generators like Bunhill and to pioneer further projects that use existing sources of waste heat in the capital, rather than allowing it to be wasted by just releasing it into the atmosphere. The Mayor has produced a detailed assessment of these opportunities across London in a new study into London’s untapped heat resources ‘The Secondary Heat report’.

Martin Wilcox, head of future networks at UK Power Networks, said: “We are carrying out a feasibility project exploring the potential to capture waste heat from one of our high voltage electricity substations and use it to warm local homes for the first time.

“If it is successful there could be potential to replicate this and increase access to low carbon, low cost energy in other parts of the capital because we have electricity substations dotted throughout London which keep the lights on for millions of homes and businesses.”

The project is part of the larger European Union co-funded CELSIUS project. The CELSIUS project is a partnership of five EU cities and aims to demonstrate how the efficiency and performance of district heating systems can be improved by focusing on the opportunity that they offer for capturing and utilising sources of waste heat that are generated within cities.

Heat networks provide the necessary infrastructure for utilising a range of waste and renewable heat that is generated within a city and this can play an important part in helping lower heating bills, reduce carbon emissions and make the capital more self-sufficient in energy.

This demonstration project has been funded by £2.7m from Islington Council who own and run the network, and £1m from the European Union, along with backing from the Mayor, UK Power Networks and Transport for London / London Underground.

The Mayor has targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% and produce 25 per cent of London’s energy from local sources both by 2025. He is working to develop decentralised energy and district heating networks and as part of this is developing a new scheme that will give local electricity producers, for example from Combined Heat and Power Plants, a better return on the electricity that they sell.


Notes to editors:

  • Bunhill Heat and Power is a pioneering energy network, run by Islington Council, which opened in November 2012 and produces cheaper, greener heat for hundreds of local homes.
  • The heat network is currently fed by a Combined Heat and Power energy centre which produces both electricity and heat. In the same way that we use heat from a car engine to keep us warm when driving, the energy centre uses the heat created from producing electricity to help heat buildings and provide hot water.
  • The network has 1.4 miles of pipes which carry the heat to local housing estates and a leisure centre.  Heat from the London Underground will be captured and added to this network.

 The CELSIUS Project is co-funded through the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and is being led by the City of Gothenburg.  The project has 21 partners from 5 cities: Gothenburg, Cologne, Genoa, London and Rotterdam.  It is a demonstrator project that is highlighting new and innovative technologies and approaches, including the capture and utilisation of waste heat, that will help the large-scale roll-out of district heating and cooling projects across the EU.  It will not only address technical issues and barriers but also other issues identified as barriers to the large-scale roll-out of district heating and cooling systems such as from the social, political, administrative, legal and economic perspective.


A detailed assessment of waste heat sources in London, undertaken by Buro Happold for the Greater London Authority, is available at:http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/tackling-climate-change/energy-supply

 Sources of heat include: industrial and process sources such as power stations, industrial processes (such as chemical industries, clinical waste incinerators and food producers), building cooling systems and refrigeration (such as offices, supermarkets and data centres), sewerage systems and water treatment works, London Underground tunnels and electricity substations; and environmental sources – air, ground, water (that retain solar heat).

In March the Mayor of London made an application to Ofgem for a new type of electricity supply licence, sometimes known as Licence Lite. This will enable the Greater London Authority to sell electricity produced by London boroughs and other public sector owners of systems producing heat and power locally (decentralised energy systems). The Mayor is working with Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change to bring this new route to market by early 2014.

 The Mayor of London’s planning rules are also driving investment in decentralised energy systems. The London Plan supports the development and promotion of decentralised energy and district heating networks as an important part of London’s energy infrastructure and these should be developed as a priority in borough local development frameworks (Policy 5.5 DECENTRALISED ENERGY NETWORKS).  See more at:http://www.london.gov.uk/media/mayor-press-releases/2013/03/mayor-bids-to-boost-market-for-london-s-small-energy-producers#sthash.boys73ca.dpuf 

For media enquiries please call Rachelle Lawrence on 020 7983 4599 or email economicdesk@london.gov.uk or Chris Roe at Islington Council on 020 7527 8751 / 07825 098849 or email chris.roe@islington.gov.uk  Numbers not for publication. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000.For non-media enquiries please call the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.