Since the pioneering launch of the initial geothermal project in 1986, Southampton’s district heating scheme has employed up-to-the-minute technology and a host of ground-breaking features. A CHP is a Combined Heat and Power station.
Over the years, the most important development has been the addition of the combined heat and power (CHP) generators to the geothermal network. There has also been the addition of a district chilling system.
Following the dramatic rise in oil prices in the late 1970s, the Department of Energy set up a research programme looking into the potential for alternative energy sources in the UK. A number of locations were identified as possible sites of deep geothermal aquifers which contain water at a temperature sufficient to provide heating for a number of buildings. A well was drilled at the centre of Southampton, but the resource was deemed too small by the Department of Energy. However the City Council refused to let the project fail, and found Utilicom as a partner to develop the scheme as the Southampton Geothermal Heating Company (SGHC).
The Quays, Eddie Read Swimming & Diving Complex benefits from heating and chilling supplies.
The two anchor stores of West Quay, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, plus the West Quay developer Hammerson agreed to take heating and chilling supplies. ASDA superstore is also served by the scheme. More recently, IKEA has also signed up to the scheme.
The Holyrood estates’ 300 flats are heated by a 110kW CHP generator and boilers housed on the site. This approach is easy to replicate and other schemes are planned around the city.
Barratt Homes have redeveloped the former Polygon Hotel site into 108 private residential flats and take heat supplied from SGHC. This supply was a first for private housing in the UK and SGHC was chosen not only because of the environmental benefits on offer, but also the significant cost savings compared to laying gas mains and installing boilers and plant.
A number of hotels including the five-star De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel are connected to Southampton’s district heating scheme. The De Vere was also the first customer of the district chilling system.
All of the electrical power from the scheme (26 million kWh) is to be used by Associated British Ports via a private electrical connection to the port.
In addition consumers who are served by the district heating scheme include the Royal South Hants Hospital, Solent University and Carnival offices. Locally, there has also been an interest from schools. There is a continued international interest in the scheme as it still leads the way in sustainable energy schemes and is also an excellent example of how public and private organisations can work together.