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Ed Davey switches on Kingston community heat-pump scheme

A new eco-friendly housing development in London gets the energy for its heating and hot water directly from the Thames has been made operational Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The £70 million mixed-use development has been created by NHP Leisure Developments on the site of a former power station right in the heart of Kingston upon Thames, and 200 metres from the banks of the river. 

The development includes 56 homes called Kingston Heights for national affordable housing provider Affinity Sutton, plus 81 luxury private apartments known as River Walk provided by Redrow London.  The 137 apartments, built by specialist contractor and developer, United House, will all benefit from the cutting-edge heat pump system that harvests naturally stored energy from the River Thames.

The community heating scheme takes renewable heat from the sun, stored in the river water and boosts it to the temperature required for the underfloor heating and hot water needed by residents: “At two metres below the surface the water never falls below 7 deg C, even in winter, so we can be certain that it can provide enough energy to heat the apartments,” explains Mike Spenser-Morris, managing director of NHP Leisure Developments and the visionary behind the scheme. 

“If we had fitted gas boilers, then the site would be dumping around 500 additional tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year. In addition, because of this system’s exceptional energy efficiency, the equivalent heating cost for a couple living in a one bedroom apartment would be 18 per cent more. For an average home, this would mean hundreds of pounds extra.”

The system can draw up to 13 million litres of water each day – the equivalent of five Olympic-sized swimming pools.  The river water passes through a state-of-the-art, two-stage filtration process that ensures no marine life can enter the system.

Inside a specially-built plant room adjacent to the river, the water passes through high-efficiency heat exchangers and, once the low grade heat has been harvested, the water is immediately fed back into the river, untreated in any way. 

The heat exchangers transfer this low grade heat from the river water to an internal ‘closed’ loop water system and this is then carried 200 metres to a plant room in the apartment building, where Mitsubishi Electric’s advanced heat pump technology boosts the low grade heat to the temperature required for the apartments’ heating and hot water.

Kingston Heights / River walk – the facts and figures:

•             The community heating system uses Ecodan heat pump technology from Mitsubishi Electric to upgrade sensible heat from the Thames and deliver consistent heating and hot water to the apartments.

•             The system will generate approximately 2.3 MW of heat output.

•             An average of 75 litres per second will be abstracted from, and returned to, the Thames when each of the filtration units is on.  This could equate to 13 million litres per day and is the equivalent of five Olympiswimming pools per day.

•             The Thames flow rate is 260,000 litres per second so the maximum that the system would abstract is 0.05% of the available water in the river.

•             The change in temperature of the abstracted water is at most only 3 degrees – a difference that would be assimilated almost immediately.

•             A two-stage system of state-of-the-art filtration has been installed to ensure that no fish fry or other marine life can enter the system.

•             Mike Spenser-Morris appointed White Associates as his Sustainable Energy consultants for the system development.

•             Specialist contractor and developer United House Ltd was contracted to build and manage the project.

•             The construction project included the technically challenging encapsulation of a live UK Power Networks substation within a steel-lined concrete ‘box’ 200 metres long, 38 metres wide and four storeys high.

•             Christopher Smith Associates were appointed by NHP Leisure Developments as quantity surveyors and project managers for the project.

•             Paul Brookes Architects were the architects responsible for the design of Kingston Heights and KDS Associates were appointed as project delivery architects.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Dave Pearson

    Brilliant success. Well done to all involved. With natural working fluids able to raise heat from rivers as warm as 90C and still be over 2.9 RHI level there really is nothing stopping any river adjacent project being heating with heatpumps.

    In true bluepeter style, here's one we prepared earlier


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