Transport: Excess heat used to offset New Street carbon footprint

A GROUND-BREAKING initiative to reduce Birmingham New Street’s carbon footprint ahead of the hub’s reopening following its £600m redevelopment is underway.

The project sees Network Rail, Birmingham City Council, Cofely and sustainability consultants, Anthesis-SecondNature, joining forces to deliver a project which will see 1.5km of pipework installed across the station and in the city centre to enable excess heat produced by a new combined heat and power unit to be exported to the Birmingham District Energy Scheme.

The scheme, owned and operated by Cofely in close partnership with BCC, supplies heat to offices and other buildings in the city including Aston University and the Barclaycard Arena, as well as the new John Lewis department store. It will be extended to other Southside developments in the future.

Network Rail’s rebuilt New Street station is three times the size of the old station and will have 31 new escalators and 29 new lifts, all of which require more electricity than the previous station.

All this week – in conjunction with Virgin Trains, Birmingham Airport and the University of Birmingham – is focusing on regional transport and transport infrastructure issues. 

We have produced a special supplement on the sector which includes coverage from a round table attended by a number of the West Midlands’ transport industry’s ‘big hitters’.

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A combined heat and power plant has been developed as the greenest and most economically viable way of creating the energy. This is the first time that a CHP plant has been used in a Network Rail managed station.

Patrick Cawley, Network Rail’s programme sponsor, said: “Innovation and sustainability is at the core of this project and reducing the station’s carbon footprint by building our own combined heating and power plant is a great example. The excess heat created by the station’s plant can now be used by the city’s shared district heating network to supply surrounding offices and businesses.”

The measures could potentially cut carbon emissions by up to 3,000 tonnes per year when combined with the wider scheme.

Cllr Tahir Ali, Birmingham’s cabinet member for Development, Transport and the Economy, said: “I am really pleased that the new station is joining the city’s existing shared district heating network to the north side of the station, which already provides heat to a number of key buildings, including the ICC, Birmingham Children’s hospital and the new Library of Birmingham.

“It will further reduce the city’s carbon footprint and provides considerable potential to expand. There are a number of public buildings in the vicinity to the station, which have been identified for possible connection to the district heating. The scheme also provides a huge potential for connecting adjacent buildings with district heating, and support a more sustainable regeneration that is planned for the south of the city centre.”

Cofely is working with Network Rail and Birmingham City Council to expand the current district scheme from the Town Hall, along New Street and Stephenson Street, to reach the station and other parts of the city that were previously constrained by the station footprint.

Ben Watts. Of Cofely, said “This latest development of the Birmingham District Energy scheme creates one of the most extensive low carbon heat networks in the UK, which now supplies buildings across all sectors including healthcare, education, local authority, commercial, residential and retail as well as New Street itself – saving over 15,600 tonnes of CO2 per annum.”

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