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Gateshead Council wins a national award for its District Energy Scheme

24 October 2017

The council was presented with the Visionary Project Award by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) at its 50th anniversary awards ceremony at the Science Museum in London. The special award ceremony was recognising the most significant schemes of the past decade, as well as looking for those scheme setting the bar for the next decade of energy initiatives.

The Visionary Project award received the most entries out of any category at the event.  Sponsored by SAV Systems, the award highlights projects that look forward and dramatically change the vision of the energy industry for the future.

The Gateshead scheme was judged to be a “truly visionary” project.  It provides heat through 3km of pipes and electricity through a private wire network to domestic, commercial and public sector customers.

It is one of the most unique projects in the country as it also offers peak power generation to help balance the grid through a mixture of battery storage and combined heat and power with heat storage.

This project is being supported by a grant from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020


Gateshead Council opened the Gateshead Energy Centre in March 2017 to provide heat and power to the district energy network across Gateshead town centre and the Gateshead Quays area. 

The new, low carbon energy centre will generate both heat and power for sale directly to customers via a new 3km underground network of heat pipes and high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables. 

Initially, the scheme will supply public buildings – Gateshead Civic Centre, the Sage Gateshead, BALTIC and Gateshead College - and homes managed by the Gateshead Housing Company. 

However, the scheme has been designed to meet the energy needs of future developments planned for Gateshead town centre, including commercial developments at Gateshead Quays and Baltic Business Quarter and 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. 

The scheme was funded and is owned by Gateshead Council. The scheme is operated by Gateshead Energy Company, a publically limited company wholly owned by Gateshead Council. 

Construction of the District Energy Scheme

The Council worked with district energy experts WSP-PB Ltd. to design and procure the energy centre and wider network. Construction was by Balfour Beatty Construction and began in June 2015, with Clancy Docwra beginning work on the underground heat and power network in January 2016. 

The 4MW of combined heat and power engines are installed and maintained by Edina UK Ltd. 

The plan below shows the extent of the initial district energy network, which was completed in 2017. 

The Council has committed to extending the network, and construction is due to commence of various extensions through 2017:

  • 1km extension of private wire network to Park Road / Shearlegs Road depots, including connection to a new 3MW battery storage system
  • Connection of Regent Court, comprising 160 homes, to the district heating network.
  • 1km extension of both heat and private wire network, trialling new plastic district heating pipe technology, to the Gateshead Leisure Centre area. 

The Council continues to work with other commercial customers and new developers in the town centre to see the network expand further in the coming years.

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