Birmingham plans to create the world’s first city-wide district heating network that will power buildings and electric cars with energy from waste
Multiple combined heat and power systems already in place across the city will be joined into the Birmingham District Heating Network, powered by biofuel from food waste and sewage sludge processed through a gasification plant operated by the European Bioenergy Research Institute (Ebri).
The network will be enhanced by technology enabling surplus power to be stored in the batteries of electric vehicles.
The project is funded with £1.1m from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and will be carried out by Ebri and Aston Business School, developer Cofely District Energy, delivery agency Cenex Ltd and energy efficiency company Open Energi.
It is part of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s push to boost renewable heat production and usage and will run from January 2015 until June 2017.
As part of the project, an electric vehicle charging infrastructure system will be installed in Birmingham’s city centre with Ebri claiming an electric vehicle such as a Nissan Leaf would be charged to 80% within 30 minutes instead of six to eight hours with a standard domestic connection.
Chris Walsh, head of technical support and consultancy at Cenex, said: “The integration of electric vehicles enabled with bi-directional energy transfer and bio-based generation technologies will offer a new way to generate and dispatch low carbon energy for future electricity networks.”
Ebri said the system could be replicated at more than 900 electrical vehicle charging points throughout the UK.