London’s public transportation system, along with the systems that power their industrial factories and air conditioning, for example, produce massive amounts of excessive energy and heat. We all know that feeling when a train or a subway whooshes by us and we’re hit with that warm gust of air. The warmth is created in large part from the excess being produced—and wasted—by these systems. So to counteract that, London has begun plans for a new initiative, the London Underground.
Essentially, this project means finding a way to harness and take advantage of the waste heat being produced from its train systems, and using that to heat offices, community centers, and nearby homes. The director of District Heating at Ramboll, the engineering firm that designed the heat pump, believes that this “will play a major part in decarbonising the UK’s heating energy demand.”
The proposal for this plan is a low-carbon alternative to traditional gas heating, something the U.K. is planning to ban by 2025. The project would capture the excess heat generated by the mechanical systems of the public transportation lines and pipe it through a network of heat pumps into a larger energy network.
Tom Rotheray, the director of the Association for Decentralized Energy, said, “almost alf the energy used in the U.K. is for heat, and a third of U.K. emissions are from heating. With the government declaring that we must be carbon-neutral within 30 years we need to find a way to take the carbon out of our heating system.” Implementing this system will also make the transportation hubs cooler themselves, since the excess heat that usually lingers and hangs in the air will now be piped to an off-site grid.
Estimations by the Greater London Authority predict that London could power roughly 40% of its heating demand by utilizing and harnessing waste heat alone. With plans already underway, they are optimistic that they can heat about 1,350 homes by the end of 2019.
Do you think more cities, governments, and countries should implement a system to harness waste heat and energy? Should we be trying to harness this excess energy to cut down on emissions and save money?