Energy scheme delivering low carbon success

Aston Campus

26th January2012

An energy scheme involving Aston University has scooped two prestigious awards.

Aston is a key partner in the Birmingham District Energy Company (BDEC), which provides low carbon heat, electricity and chilled water to a range of buildings in Birmingham.

Since the first phase of the Birmingham District Energy Scheme became operational in 2009, it has reduced the City’s carbon emissions by some 17,000,000 kg and is now delivering savings in excess of 300,000 kg per annum.

The initiative was voted overall winner of the PFM Awards (Premises & Facilities Management) in addition to receiving the PFM’s partners in expert services award.

The BDEC partnership comprises Cofely District Energy (a Cofely GDF SUEZ company), Birmingham City Council, Aston University and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

After visiting the scheme the judges concluded; “An excellent partnership and an outstanding example of joint working between the public and private sectors. This complex partnership has overcome the problems of public sector governance and delivered a sound solution which continues to develop. With energy provision, security of supply, costs notably at the forefront of business and government concerns, here is a real ‘trailblazer’ that can demonstrate how working in true partnership can deliver benefits to every member - and ultimately to the public at large.”

Councillor Paul Tilsley MBE, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council added: “I’m delighted at this award for the Birmingham District Energy Company. As a City we have set ourselves a challenging carbon reduction target and we need to drastically cut Birmingham's annual overall energy bill of over £1.6 billion. District energy schemes like the ones which we have built in the city centre are key to reducing that bill.”

As part of the scheme, Aston University itself has two Combined Heat and Power engines producing a total of 3MW - providing the University and its halls of residences with low cost heat and electrical power.

The energy scheme is now being extended into several regeneration areas across the city and, ultimately, all of these ‘sub-schemes’ will be linked together to improve resilience and maximise energy saving opportunities.

Notes to Editors;

  • This is a tri-generation scheme producing heat, electricity and chilled water – making extensive use of large-scale combined heat and power (CHP) technologies and using conventional boilers for ‘top up’, standby and increased resilience. The electricity from all of the CHP units is used directly via private wire connections into each of the buildings/sites where they are located. Chilled water is generated by absorption chillers, powered by heat from the CHP and boiler plant.

  • The City’s district energy networks have also been designed to integrate the use of new, emerging technologies such as fuel cells and renewable heat sources into the network, as the overall energy demands and improved efficiencies makes these technologies financially viable.

  • Financial savings for the schemes are developed on a whole life costing basis and maintained throughout the contract by indexing charges to national fuel prices, the retail price index etc. As the scheme expands, any profits will be shared with the core customers.