A new system will use waste heat from the London underground to heat nearby homes. The second phase of the Bunhill Heat Network will use a heat pump to recycle wasted heat from the Northern Line of the tube into the existing hot water network. This water then gets pumped into 1,000 Islington homes and community buildings, in addition to the 800 homes already on the system. This district heating solution is a low-carbon alternative to gas heat, the typical heating system for the country.

District heating, the system used in the Bunhill Heat Network, takes released energy and sends it to homes through a pipe system.In the summer, the reverse process pumps cool air into the underground tunnels. Ramboll, the company that designed the Bunhill heating network, says the project is the first of it’s kind in Europe. The Bunhill project is helping London move toward a more sustainable society.

The system benefits the homes it powers, subway riders, and city residents who now have less gas heat pollution in the ambient air. Subway riders will enjoy cooler rides without excess heat in the system, since the process removes the heat. And then in the summer, riders will receive the cooled air. The possibilities for this kind of wasted heat process, given the size of the underground, seem extensive. 38% of London’s heating needs could be met through wasted heat, according to estimates from The Greater London Authority.

Ramboll hopes this will set a standard for other UK developments, the company’s Director of District Heating Lucy Padfield shared, “I am convinced that with the increasing use of renewable power sources, large-scale heat pumps connected to district heating systems will play a major role in the future heating of cities in the UK.” For now, this project sets the standard for other London district heating projects.

Be sure to read about other innovative London actions. Check out Goldsmiths, University of London  banning meat. And read how the London Marathon combats plastic water bottles.

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