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Vattenfall launches plan to heat London’s buildings without fossil fuels

Vattenfall Heat UK, a subsidiary of Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall Group has unveiled an ambitious plan to decarbonize London’s buildings. The planned heat network will be installed in phases as additional homes and low and zero-carbon heat sources join the network, which will serve 75 000 homes by the 2030s. By the 2040s it believes the network could be expanded to cover a thirty-mile radius and serve heat to the equivalent of more than half a million homes across east London.

Vattenfall Heat UK has unveiled details of an ambitious plan to decarbonize London’s buildings. The planned heat network will be installed in phases as additional homes and low and zero-carbon heat sources join the network (image courtesy Vattenfall).

According to Energy Systems Catapult, heating is responsible for a third of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and over 25 million homes are still using fossil fuels to keep warm.

Carbon intensity modeling by Vattenfall suggests that its heat network, which would be the largest in the UK, could reduce emissions by up to 90 percent in comparison to individual gas boilers fitted in every home.

Over a 20 year period, a heat network serving the space heating equivalent of 500 000 homes could save 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

We’ve got to think big when it comes to removing emissions from heating, on a scale which works for global cities like London. District heating presents the best option for consumers in urban areas. It’s the cheapest source of low-carbon heat, it’s reliable and it’s resilient against energy shocks. Most of London’s 3.5 million homes, and thousands of commercial buildings, are heated using fossil fuels. Yet there are abundant other sources of cleaner heat, such as the ground, water, or waste heat from industrial processes, said Mike Reynolds, Managing Director at Vattenfall Heat UK.

Start in 2022

The catalyst for the project was funding support through the Government’s Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP), awarded to Cory earlier this year. Construction for this first phase is set to start in early 2022 and will extract heat from Cory’s Energy from Waste Facility at Belvedere, supplying the first homes by 2024.

Vattenfall’s European expertise, delivering heat to 1.9 million customers in Berlin, Uppsala, and Amsterdam, proves that these types of projects are possible across cities and will work well in urban areas in the UK. By partnering with organizations like Cory we can build these networks at the scale needed to bring down the costs to building owners and consumers, making district heating the most cost-effective way to decarbonize heat in urban areas, said Mike Reynolds.

A second EfW facility – adjacent to the existing one and part of Cory’s Riverside Energy Park which received planning permission from the Government in April 2020 – will supply an additional 10,500 homes by the next decade.

Cory is a company that embraces innovation and is committed to tackling the net-zero challenge head-on. One of the ways we do this is through partnership and sharing expertise. Our heat network project with Vattenfall is a prime example of how collaboration can help the UK to address an urgent issue – the decarbonization of heat. As Cory celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, we look forward to supplying spare heat from our operations to kickstart a heat revolution in one of the world’s major cities, said Dougie Sutherland, Chief Executive at Cory.

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