England’s first sewage-powered heating scheme planned for Kingston

More than 2,000 Kingston homes could be heated in opening phase of England’s first low carbon heat scheme for homes; using energy recovered from sewage treatment process

  • More than 2,000 Kingston homes could be heated in opening phase of England’s first low carbon heat scheme for homes; using energy recovered from sewage treatment process
  • Kingston Council and Thames Water leading the way in renewable, clean heating, with potential for model to be scaled-up to heat homes across the UK
  • Part of ambitious plans from Thames Water to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and Kingston Council to be carbon neutral by 2038

Excess heat recovered from the sewage treatment process could be used to power more than 2,000 homes thanks to plans for a new carbon-cutting partnership between Thames Water and Kingston Council.

The new “poo power” scheme is the first of its kind in England and has the potential to provide clean, green heating to new homes as part of the regeneration of Kingston’s Cambridge Road Estate. The project is expected to be a model for similar schemes elsewhere in the UK, reducing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions.  

The Government and Greater London Authority have funded feasibility studies and design work for the project over the last two years, and an application has been made to the Government for capital funding. The result will be formally announced in March.

Under the plans, heat recovered from the sewage treatment process at Hogsmill sewage works will be captured, concentrated and supplied to local buildings from a state-of-the-art energy centre to be built on site. 

If successful, up to seven gigawatt hours of low carbon heat per year could be supplied via a sealed network of pipes to the district heating system at the new Cambridge Road Estate. The aim will then be to expand the network to include public and commercial buildings in Kingston town centre.

Cllr Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“This is ground breaking. It’s a first for England and shows we are serious about reducing carbon in the borough.This is a real opportunity to be bold and ambitious for future generations. It’s great to be working alongside Thames Water to make waste into clean energy.  

"The regeneration of Kingston’s largest council estate, Cambridge Road Estate, is a fantastic opportunity to make new homes in Kingston among the greenest in the country. We will continue to work alongside a range of partners to make green, sustainable energy a reality for Kingston.”

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water’s chief executive officer, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Kingston Council, offering low carbon energy to a new housing development near to our works. Renewable heat from our sewer network is a fantastic resource, so it’s important we develop this and more decarbonising schemes further to continue to spread the benefits.

“We feel a strong sense of responsibility to our customers and the environment, and have committed to doing all we can to find new and innovative ways to achieve our net zero ambitions over the next 10 years. We’re already self-generating substantial amounts of renewable energy across our vast estate, meeting around a quarter of our total electricity needs, and are confident innovative district heating schemes like this will offer many more opportunities to ensure we leave our planet in a better place for future generations."

The renewable heat project at Hogsmill sewage works – which serves 380,000 Thames Water customers – is estimated to save up to 105 kilo tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (ktCO 2e) emissions over 30 years. Future phases of the district heat network are planned to save additional emissions and help Kingston Council achieve its target of being carbon neutral by 2038.

Along with the heat transfer scheme, Thames Water is exploring other sustainable energy projects at its Hogsmill site, including installing solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

Poo power, together with wind and solar, currently generates around a quarter of the company’s electricity needs, saving around £40 million in energy costs each year. In December, Thames Water produced enough renewable electricity across 24 sewage works to power the equivalent of more than 110,000 homes, 15 per cent more than was being produced three months previously. 

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Notes to editors

How it works in more detail:

Some of the final effluent (around a third) is diverted to a new energy centre through pipes.

The energy centre concentrates that heat (65 degrees plus) for the housing network via a heat pump - which acts as reverse fridge.

This warms a separate water heating system connected to the housing development.

​The effluent is consistently slightly warm all year round (10-15 degrees) naturally, from showers, baths and cooking etc.

Effluent is returned to river cooler than before, in a more natural state
 

About Kingston Council

Kingston Council declared a Climate Emergency in June 2019 and is taking action to reduce carbon and deliver sustainability across its wide range of operations.

The Council recognises that the Climate Emergency cannot be solved without the engagement and action of other parties, and is committed to working with residents, communities, businesses and partners to develop a response to the challenges faced.

We have identified key areas of focus as; sustainable transport and travel, air quality, energy efficiency in homes and workspaces, generating and harnessing energy, biodiversity and green spaces and waste management, recycling and the circular economy.

 

About Thames Water    

Thames Water is the UK’s biggest water and wastewater services provider. Our key workers provide essential services around the clock to 15 million customers across London, the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.  

For an average of just over £1 a day for our households, we provide 2.6 billion litres of drinking water and safely remove 4.6 billion litres of wastewater every day.  

We invested more than £1 billion again in 2019/20, leading to a total of £16 billion in the past 16 years, and we will continue to spend wisely on improving resilience, service and efficiency, as well as provide more support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.   

We also have additional responsibilities to society and the natural environment.

What we do and how we do it delivers significant public value, which is why we have ambitious plans to self-generate more of our own power, reduce our carbon emissions and increase biodiversity across our sites.

Published: 26th February 2021