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Heat recovered from Bankside substation to be used at Tate Modern

London SE1 website team

Bankside's electricity substation is ready to start delivering heat to Tate Modern in an award-winning project led by UK Power Networks.

Heat recovered from Bankside substation to be used at Tate Modern
Heat recovered from Bankside substation to be used at Tate Modern

Although Bankside Power Station ceased operation several decades ago, Bankside remains an important part of London's electricity network with a substation operating on part of the power station site.

The engineering project will enable heat, recovered as a by-product from the operation of new equipment at UK Power Networks' 60 million refurbished electricity substation, to supplement the heating and hot water needs of Tate Modern.

It is the first time UK Power Networks has provided this service for a customer and the innovative project, delivered by UK Power Networks in partnership with Tate Modern, Arup and Wilson Transformer Company, scooped the 'Infrastructure' award at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors London regional award ceremony earlier this month.

It also won a 'Re-engineering London' award in March at the Institution of Civil Engineers London Awards.

Arup estimates the heat recovery system could provide approximately 7,000MWh of heat each year to Tate Modern's new building, saving up to 1,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year compared with conventional gas-fired boilers.

The substation receives electricity from the grid at 132,000 volts and equipment called transformers convert it to 20,000 volts and 11,000 volts for distribution across London in underground cables. During this process, heat loss from the transformers normally dissipates naturally in the air, but at Bankside pipes have been installed to capture and recycle the heat in the adjoining art gallery.

"In all the major cities in the world there will be lots of opportunities to install heat recovery," said Paul Dyer, UK Power Networks' transformer specialist.

"It can only work where the substation is in close proximity to the building using the heat, and urban areas have the potential to work best.

"Following this project we have received enquiries from other customers who would like us to consider replicating this system for their building.

"One of the barriers to implementing heat recovery on a wider scale at the moment are the initial capital costs. However, the hope is that as more of these projects are developed, the costs might be reduced."

UK Power Networks spent 800,000 from Ofgem's Innovation Funding Incentive in the necessary research, feasibility studies, design and infrastructure for the project and Tate Modern invested a further 200,000.

Waste heat recovery is just one aspect of the 60 million project UK Power Networks carried out at Bankside between 2005 and 2011. The company has moved its substation into half the previous space, releasing land for the expansion of Tate Modern.

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