A ground-breaking energy scheme that will cut energy bills and carbon emissions for homes and businesses in Gateshead launched last week (2nd March 2017) by the Minister for Industry and Energy.
The first of its kind and scale in the North East, the futuristic-looking District Energy Centre houses a small but highly-efficient power station which will generate and supply lower-carbon, lower cost energy for up to 350 local homes, as well as public buildings and businesses, via a new 2.5km underground network of heat pipes and high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables.
Leading supplier, installer and maintenance provider for combined heat and power (CHP), gas and diesel power generation solutions, Edina, was awarded the contract to supply and install two MWM manufactured natural gas reciprocating engines as part of the projects energy requirement.
Edina is the sole distributor in the UK and Ireland for MWM engines, which are world renowned for achieving maximum electrical and thermal efficiency, low operating and servicing costs and high reliability and availability.
The two MWM engines will be housed within a purpose built energy centre.
The CHP plant, powered by two 2MWe natural gas engines will generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. CHP application, unlike conventional power stations, recovers the waste heat created from the engines during the energy generation process and will be used to provide heat directly to customers via an underground network of insulated pipes, known as district heating. In conventional power stations this waste heat is simply lost to atmosphere.
The first buildings to take advantage of the energy centre include Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Civic Centre, Gateshead College, BALTIC, as well as high rise Council housing blocks in central Gateshead. The Energy Centre will be supplying all of these customers by summer 2017.
The energy centre and network has been designed to be able to meet all the energy needs of future developments planned for Gateshead town centre. Significantly, the scheme provides the low-carbon energy infrastructure which will underpin the redevelopment of the 21-hectare Baltic Business Quarter business development site and wider Gateshead Quays, which the Council is progressing – developers will have the major commercial advantage of a low-cost energy supplier right on their doorstep.
Major housing developments at the former Freightliner site and the new Exemplar Neighbourhood - an area between the Felling by-pass and the former Chandless estate where up to 1,000 new homes are planned – are also planned to be supplied from the Energy Centre.
And already, funding and work is underway to extend the network a further 2km, to 6 more Council and public buildings within the next 18 months.
Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, said; “This is an important project which will give our area a real cutting edge.
“Our District Energy Centre is twice as efficient as a conventional power station, and far greener, and we can pass on some of those cost efficiencies to local people and businesses in the form of cheaper heat and power. This alone will make a real difference to customers’ energy costs.
“However, the commercial advantages offered by cheap heat and power will be obvious to incoming businesses and we believe this is likely to drive up demand for business space here in Gateshead, something that should help to generate much-needed new jobs.
“We are also helping to substantially reduce Gateshead’s carbon footprint.
He added: “This project clearly demonstrates what a forward-thinking local authority can deliver, and the kind of resources we can marshal to deliver a complicated and innovative development such as this. I hope it shows that our commitment to local people and to local business remains undiminished by the financial hardships that we are suffering.”
Edina’s Joint Managing Director, Tony Fenton, comments; “We are truly delighted to part of this ambitious and forward thinking project. The CHP energy centre will have a profound effect across the entire community and will provide low cost energy, reduce carbon emissions and attract investment into the area. Furthermore, the CHP district heating project clearly sets the benchmark for local authorities to follow.”
The Gateshead District Energy Centre will reduce energy costs by providing heat and power at discounted rates to customers, and is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 5,000 tonnes initially, which will increase as the scheme expands.
Edina will maintain the two CHP plants over a long term service and maintenance contract.