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Could HS2 provide green energy to homes?

Engineers developing the HS2 super-hub at Old Oak Common in London are proposing plans to tap heat from the brakes of trains to heat water and power central heating.

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Old Oak Common in London is set to be the UK's best connected rail interchange
Old Oak Common in London is set to be the UK's best connected rail interchange

Engineers developing the £1.3bn HS2 rail super-hub in the UK are proposing plans that could provide green energy to several hundred new homes.

 

The plans involve recycling heat generated by the engines and brakes of trains approaching and departing Old Oak Common in north west London to heat water and power central heating of up to 500 new homes that could be built nearby.

 

Drawing warm air from tunnels

 

The scheme would see five air source heat pumps draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels, where the waste heat from trains is usually extracted by traditional ventilation systems and seeps into the ground surrounding the tunnels.

 

Instead, the company building the high-speed rail line HS2 Ltd’s plans would see waste heat fed into a local district heating system.

 

Near Old Oak Common, HS2 is building a crossover box which is an underground hall that houses a points junction to enable trains to arrive and depart from any of the station’s platforms.

 

The scheme would see warm air pushed into the crossover box by trains, in effect acting like pistons. It then rises to be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and transported to homes by insulated pipes.

“By taking a long-term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high-speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low-carbon heating and hot water"

Based on current energy price forecasts, HS2 estimates that the investment in waste heat recycling system would pay for itself in four years. It could also reduce the carbon footprint of the 500 houses by more than one fifth compared to using gas boilers.

 

“HS2 is so much more than a railway,” said Pablo García, innovation manager at HS2. “By taking a long-term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high-speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low-carbon heating and hot water to up to 500 new homes.”

 

He continued: “Designs for the second phase of the railway are at an earlier stage, and we hope to look at whether waste heat recovery technology could be deployed there too.”

 

According to HS2, the new station at Old Oak Common is set to be the UK’s best connected rail interchange, with an estimated 250,000 people passing through every day.

 

It will help kick-start the UK’s largest regeneration project, which aims to transform the former railway and industrial area, into a new neighbourhood supporting up to 65,000 jobs and 25,500 new homes.

 

Currently, more than 1,000 people are at work on HS2 across London, clearing the way for the start of construction.

 

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