Birmingham District Energy Scheme

Excavation works in Chamberlain Square

The works that most of us will have encountered in the City Centre are the implementation of the Combined Heat and Power system. This puts to use by-product heat that historically has been wasted by allowing it to escape to the environment.

What is the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system?

The CHP in the Broad Street area consists of a gas-fired engine to generate 1.6 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This generation process produces heat which is normally wasted. But, in this CHP the heat by-product is used to provide heating, chilled water (using a technique termed Absorption Refrigeration) for air conditioning, and hot water.

The system drastically reduces harmful CO2 emissions and, in the Birmingham system, emissions will be reduced by a very significant and worthwhile 4000 tonnes p.a.

There are two other CHP schemes – Aston University and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Together these will save 12000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

What will use the heat energy captured?

The outputs of the system will provide energy to buildings such as the National Indoor Arena,  the International Convention Centre, the Hyatt Hotel, the Repertory Theatre, the Library of Birmingham, Paradise Circus, The Council House,  the Town Hall, and New Street Station.

Why are there works in the City Centre?

The trenches hold insulated pipes delivering hot water. These connect the Broad Street and Aston University schemes as well as supplying buildings along the route, eg New Street Station.

Who is responsible for and delivering the scheme?

The scheme is being developed by the City Council’s Urban Design service in partnership with Cofely District Energy Ltd which is delivering the system.

Urban Design was awarded a grant to develop the scheme under the Government’s Community Energy programme. Cofely runs the Birmingham District Energy Company (BDEC) that will finance all capital works needed to develop the scheme. It will design and operate the CHP plant, supplying energy services at discounted rates.

Article by Geoff Caine


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