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Combined Heat and Power comes to Birmingham


Birmingham City Council is aiming for a 20% reduction in their CO2 emissions by 2010. To help them achieve this goal, they are installing their first Combined Heat and Power (CHP) scheme, which will be fully operational by October 2007 - in time for the start of the heating season. The scheme will provide energy and heat to several Council buildings in the city centre.

According to Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Paul Tilsley, “The CHP scheme is an example of how the City Council is taking a lead in tackling climate change. This scheme is really exciting, as it will help make a difference to the environment in which we all have to live. I look forward to seeing it become a reality, and hope it is the first of many. We shall be using it as an example to encourage major developers across the region to address sustainability issues.

Project description

Aim The aim of this project is to install a CHP scheme, which will provide heat and energy for several Birmingham City Council buildings and will have a significant impact on helping the city to meet its CO2 emissions reduction target of 20% by 2010.
Key points CHP is a process where electricity is generated and the resulting heat, which is normally wasted, is used to provide heating, chilled water for air conditioning and hot water. In this case, the heat from the CHP will be incorporated into a district heating scheme. CHP is a recognised way of substantially decreasing CO2 emissions.

The CHP engine

The engine that will power Birmingham city centre’s first CHP scheme has arrived at its home in the ICC Energy Centre, sited between the National Indoor Arena (NIA) and the International Convention Centre (ICC).

The CHP engine was manufactured by Caterpillar, who manufacture construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines. It is approximately 6m long, 1.5m wide and 2m high and weighs 16 tons.

The CHP engine

Now that the engine has been delivered, pipe work for the district heating scheme will be laid. The pipe work will be highly insulated to minimise heat and chilling losses.

Each hour, the CHP engine will generate 1.5MW of electricity and capture 3MW of heat which is produced as a by-product of electricity production. To put it into context, 1.5MW of electricity is enough to power 25,000 60W light bulbs. It is also sufficient to meet the base electricity demand of both the ICC and the NIA.

The CHP scheme will provide electricity to the ICC and the NIA and heat for the district heating scheme which covers several buildings including the Council House and Extension, Paradise Circus, the Town Hall, the Repertory Theatre, the Hyatt Hotel, the ICC and the NIA.

Reasons for inclusion as Shining Example This Shining Example demonstrates the use of Combined Heat and Power as part of a district heating scheme, which has been made possible by securing government funding and by forming a partnership in the form of an Energy Service Company (ESCo) with a private company that has the knowledge and expertise to run both the financial and operational components of the project.

Costs and benefits

Costs and funding The CHP scheme will cost €9 million (£6 million). The scheme has been drawn up by the Sustainability and Energy Management team of the City Council’s Urban Design service. Urban Design was awarded a grant to develop the scheme under the Government’s Community Energy programme.

Community Energy is a €75 million (£50 million) UK-wide capital programme for installing and refurbishing community heating. Schemes are mainly based on CHP with innovative approaches also encouraged.

Utilicom Ltd will run the ESCo, called Birmingham District Energy Company (BDEC), which will finance all capital works needed to develop the scheme. It will design and operate the CHP plant, supplying energy services to customers at discounted rates. Utilicom Ltd is a developer and provider of community and district energy schemes.

Benefits When phase 1 of the scheme is completed it is estimated that some 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved.

Financially, the building owners will be able to save some 5% per year on their energy supply costs, on a whole-life cost basis.

Future building developments or refurbishments will be able to positively consider connection to the system, which it is envisaged will enable unproblematic compliance with the legislation adjusted by the EU Energy Performance of Building’s Directive.

Partnership details

Partners and role The CHP scheme is being delivered by Birmingham City Council in partnership with Utilicom Ltd, through the formation of an ESCo.


Achievements Simon Woodward, Utilicom’s Chief Executive said, “We are delighted to be working with Birmingham City Council and its partners on this exciting flagship project. This will be an exemplar scheme for other local authorities throughout the UK to follow. The City Council should be congratulated on its vision and determination to deliver large sustainable energy projects such as this. Over the next 25 years this and similar schemes will deliver increasing environmental and financial benefits to Birmingham.

Sandy Taylor, the City Council’s Head of Climate Change and Sustainability said "We see the creation of decentralised energy networks as vital to helping to bring down CO2 emissions across Birmingham. This is a key part of our Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, which will be finalised in autumn 2007. As we continue to regenerate the City Centre and invest in our wider residential communities and local centres across Birmingham we will be continuing to develop opportunities for local heat and power generation. We are extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Utilicom to help us deliver this key priority for the City.

Lessons learned The City Council acted as a co-ordinator and facilitator, successfully engaging with various public and private bodies to create the CHP scheme. The scheme, which has now become a reality, will encourage more progressive private sector operators by increasing confidence in the formation of ESCos.

To know more

Organisation name Birmingham City Council
Contact Coral Tiling
Phone +44 (0)1 213 036 530

Useful info

Publications GPG377 – Guidance on procuring energy services to deliver heat and power schemes
Arrangements to visit Requests for site visits will be considered

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