Camden Council Camden Council Somers Town Decentralised Energy Network In Progress

The award-winning Somers Town Decentralised Heat Network is delivering heat and hot water to the residents of Camden and has been designed with expansion in mind, allowing it to grow into one of London's major heat networks

“We are really excited by this project. It represents the first step in a network of low carbon energy projects, which will provide cleaner, greener, affordable and more secure energy supplies for communities across Camden.”

Councillor Meric Apak Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment

Project Overview

Camden Council have ambitious targets to reduce their carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 and one of the key stages to their plan is the Somers Town Heat Network which will provide heat and hot water to five housing estates, a new community centre and the redesigned Edith Neville School, and provide electricity to The Francis Crick Institute via a private wire.

We were responsible for the design and build of the district heating network and energy centre in a dual phased solution, along with providing operation and maintenance services for a period of 15 years.

Vital Energi's Solution

The scheme was implemented in two phases: the first seeing the installation of the district heating network connecting four estates and the retrofit energy centre into the basement of a 1960’s under-used car park; and the second being the installation of the CHP engine and thermal stores, and connecting another housing block, community centre and school to the network.

A phased solution was decided upon as there was limited historical operational data to determine demand patterns and so the Council wanted a period of study following the connection of the first estates to understand the network’s performance. This would allow us to analyse the operational data before deciding upon the best matched CHP engine size to provide an accurate solution.

Overcoming challenges of district heating installation within busy London Borough

The project presented our designers with a challenge as they would be designing the initial stages of what will become one of London’s major heat networks. The location of the installation made the project extremely challenging. Located close to Euston Station and St. Pancras International Station, the area would involve removal and reinstatement of cobbles, working on busy highways and walkways, and dealing with the congested existing utilities in central London.

After extensive heat loss calculations and comparisons, we specified Logstor Series 3 single pipework which has an expected design life in excess of 50 years. The 581m of district heating pipe which makes up the core of Phase 1 will include a range of pipe sizes. After careful analysis of potential future heat loads, all have been sized to allow for planned future expansion and range from 65mm to 250mm pipework.

The pipework has a moisture detection alarm system installed, accurate to 1m, allowing any issues to be addressed as early as possible and before a leak occurs. In total, the Phase 1 district heating network will connect 339 properties, with 184 further properties connected in Phase 2, as well as the school and community centre.

Innovative retrofit energy centre solution into basement car park

The energy centre is in a former underground car park which has been retrofitted and has seen us employ a creative design to comply with the original building. This can be seen in the flue solution which was designed to run up the side of the building and has been clad to match the building’s other lift shaft.

Future-proofed solution to cater for phased installation and further development

Contingency was built into the design to accommodate future increased demand and also to ensure ease of expansion for future planned connections. For the first phase of the energy centre, three 1.3MWth boilers were installed with space left for further plant and equipment. The energy centre supplied heat and hot water for the first phase for two years before the second phase saw the installation of a 900kW CHP engine, four 9,000L thermal stores and three 11,000L thermal stores.

Efficient installation of equipment which will provide significant carbon savings for the Borough

The delivery of the plant equipment for Phase 2 of the project was carried out over a two day period which saw us complete all traffic and pedestrian access management to ensure safety. We aimed to minimise disruption as much as possible by completing the deliveries on a weekend to alleviate traffic congestion.

Providing effective operation and maintenance services for the scheme to guarantee efficiencies

Camden Council had given a great deal of thought to the possible long-term evolution of their heat network, and have procured a comprehensive 15 year Asset Management contract with Vital which will guarantee a minimum efficiency performance level in excess of 80% for the system.

The network has been designed so that after the CHP’s lifecycle expires, Camden will be able to use whatever the most low carbon and cost effective technology of the future may be.

Key Benefits

Key Benefits

  • Extensive modelling has informed accurate plant selection and sizing
  • Efficient installation in the heart of London
  • Winner of the 2016 H&V District Heating Project of the Year