Work has been completed on a first-of-its-kind renewable energy scheme and is now operational in Jarrow, South Tyneside. Colloide Engineering Systems won the contract to construct the groundbreaking Viking Energy Network at Jarrow in 2020 and the pioneering project has now come online.
The Viking Energy Network at Jarrow will cut annual carbon emissions by 1,035 tonnes as well as save around half a million pounds a year.
The flagship renewable energy network which cost millions of pounds to set up harnesses low-grade heat from the River Tyne and exports it to council-owned buildings. The heat that is being generated from the river Tyne is being used to heat the Jarrow Focus Leisure Centre, the Jarrow Business Centre, the Jarrow Town Hall, and three residential tower blocks.
The renewable energy network built on an existing council-owned brownfield site at Jarrow Staithes on the south bank of the River Tyne, combines a river source heat pump, a one-megawatt solar farm, a private wire electrical network with a storage battery, and a backup combined heat and power system (CHP). An extensive pipe network is used to distribute heat across the town.
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The water source heat pump works by extracting heat from the river Tyne, compressing it to increase the temperature, and then converting it into useful energy in the form of hot water pumped through a network of insulated pipes that distribute the heat across Jarrow.
The solar farm will provide much of the electricity to power the heat pump which will mean that it will run close to carbon neutral in the summer months.
If the solar panels do not generate enough electricity at any point, the CHP backup system harnesses the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process, and which would otherwise be wasted.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, the leader of the South Tyneside Council, has welcomed the addition of the new renewable energy network to South Tyneside as part of the local authority’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“I am so proud that we have this here in South Tyneside and it is a start to becoming carbon neutral. This network is the first of its kind and is unique in that it will combine three renewable technologies, ensuring minimal use of fossil fuels. It demonstrates our commitment to net zero and a switch to cleaner, more secure energy sources.
This site alone will save more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year and with two further sites coming in the future, you’re talking about 4,000 tonnes being saved annually. This is really important to us in South Tyneside, we declared that climate emergency, and now it is time for us to deliver.”
Tracey Dixon said that not only does the project show that they are on their way to being carbon neutral, but it also shows the commitment the council has in saying that the green economy and climate change are very much at the forefront of what they want to do and deliver.
Colloide Engineering Systems’ managing director, Paddy McGuiness highlighted what the Viking Energy Network will bring to the local area.
“We are delighted to deliver this state-of-the-art project in partnership with South Tyneside Council. The Viking Energy Network at Jarrow exemplifies Colloide’s core values of Engineering Excellence and Sustainability, as it combines three renewable technologies to ensure minimal reliance on fossil fuels.
It has been a challenging endeavour, but the seamless integration and collaboration between the teams from South Tyneside Council and Colloide have resulted in a highly successful project, one that not only advances the cause of clean energy but also adds significant social value within the community.”
The project benefited from a £4.6 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) due to the energy system’s “innovative approach”.
There is also scope to expand the heat network and connect other buildings in Jarrow, including a local hospital, schools, and sheltered housing schemes. A study into phase two of the project is already underway, funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
The Viking network is just one of three highly innovative projects that are being developed to further improve the on-site renewable capabilities and low-carbon heating solutions. Collectively they will cut carbon emissions by more than 4,000 tonnes.
The announcement to conduct a study into phase 2 of the Viking Network project comes just a few weeks after Vattenfall declared that it had been contracted to connect and operate the largest river source heat pump in Europe at a farm in Kent, a project that would tap heat from the River Medway to provide energy to commercial greenhouses in the area.
The UK government is optimistic about water source heat pump technology with the Energy Secretary describing them as “game-changing”. The UK government sees heat pumps as an important part of the decarbonisation of heating in the future and has set a target for 4.5 million domestic heat pumps across the UK in addition to commercial and industrial installations.
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