Aston expands Energy Scheme

Arrival of Combined Heat and Power Plant
Arrival of Combined Heat and Power Plant

23rd July 2009


Aston University has taken delivery of a huge Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine, which will help to power its own campus and Birmingham City’s new multi-million pound Eastside regeneration developments.

The 2MWe CHP engine is set to become the largest installed CHP engine within Birmingham’s highly acclaimed low carbon district energy scheme. Located in Aston’s newly refurbished energy centre, it will combine with Aston’s existing CHP to produce a total of 3MW of power.

In October, when fully operational, the Aston scheme will see carbon dioxide levels reduced by 4,400 tonnes a year and will provide the University with its own highly reliable source of low cost heat and electrical power. The 3MW CHP will allow even more of the University’s buildings to benefit from sustainable energy, including its new Halls of Residence which are set for completion next year.

The CHP will eventually link to other phases of Birmingham’s expanding energy network which Utilicom and the City Council are rapidly developing across the City Centre and beyond.  Aston’s commitment as a core partner of the Birmingham District Energy Scheme, will allow the scheme to expand into the wider £600m Eastside regeneration area. The Aston based CHP is already earmarked to supply sustainable decentralised low carbon energy to several new developments including the planned new Magistrates Courts at Masshouse Plaza.  

Alongside the new energy scheme, a ground breaking partnership has also been developed with Aston University’s prestigious European Bio-Energy Research Institute (EBRI) to apply and incorporate its onsite research and skills in the overall Birmingham scheme. This will see an additional 1MW combined heat and power plant built at Aston University- a test facility which will explore a range of alternative energies including how waste products from sewage, algae, agricultural and municipal waste, and crops on marginal land, can be converted into energy for heat and electricity.  

Aston University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Julia King CBE FREng, said; “Aston University is very pleased to be taking this next step on the way to realising a more sustainable vision for the University’s energy requirements. The close working partnership between Aston University’s estates team, Utilicom and the City Council will enable this project to deliver a number of the University’s and the City’s sustainability targets over the coming years. The potential to develop collaboration between our bioenergy research and our campus heat and power supply is a particularly exciting aspect of this project.”

Councillor Paul Tilsley from Birmingham City Council, said; “The delivery to Aston University of this new CHP Engine maintains the great level of momentum and commitment by both parties in the continued expansion of the Birmingham District Energy Scheme throughout the City. I look forward to seeing the Scheme expand across the City, and challenge new and existing businesses and institutions to consider connecting to embrace this climate of changing attitudes to the environment which is being seen across the City of Birmingham.”

Garry East, Director of Estates & Facilities at Aston University, said; “The combined heat and power plant will replace our own inefficient traditional energy supply unit, with a system capable of generating power for future developments both within and outside the University Campus. As well as supplying heat and power to the University, we are delighted that the Energy Centre will also serve the wider City and help to ensure carbon emissions at both Aston University and the city of Birmingham are kept to a minimum.”

Utilicom’s Chief Executive, Simon Woodward, said; “We are delighted that Aston University, Birmingham City Council and Utilicom are celebrating the arrival of the largest CHP engine within the Birmingham District Energy Scheme. Over its life the engine will deliver significant financial and environmental benefits to the University and the City, and will allow the expansion of the scheme to third-party consumers in Eastside wishing to benefit from the scheme’s low cost and low carbon energy.”

Other CHP’s in operation in Birmingham include the Broad Street CHP which powers the International Convention Centre and other nearby City Centre buildings.


For further information contact Alex Earnshaw, Press Officer, Aston University on 01905 204 4549