London’s first scheme to use burning waste to produce energy could see homes in Southwark heated by the innovative project. Heat from the South East London Combined Heat and Power Plant (SELCHP) in Deptford is normally just wasted, but Southwark Council has published proposals to take that heat and use it to power their seven central boiler houses; which in turn provide the heat for almost 3,000 houses on a number of different housing estates.
Schemes like this are common across Europe, though there are only a few operational in the UK and currently none in the capital. The SELCHP facility was opened over 17 years ago, and the intention had always been for agencies to make use of both the power and heat that the burning waste produces, but the Southwark proposal is the first to suggest a practical use for the wasted heat.
At the start, the council will only need about a quarter of the heat produced by SELCHP to provide heat for the 3,00 homes, but the opportunity is always there to increase this amount if the programme proves successful and partners from the private sector can be brought in.
Although the scheme would not require Southwark Council to make any contributions to the costs involved, they would have to sign a long-term contract with the SELCHP and its part-owners, waste company Veolia. This deal would guarantee Southwark Council paid the lowest possible prices for the heat energy; and as Veolia is currently the council’s own waste management company, Southwark residents would be heating their own homes with their own rubbish.
Cllr Barrie Hargrove, who is responsible for environment and recycling policies on Southwark Council, is very excited about the possibilities which the scheme offer, adding that negotiations between the council, Veolia and the South East London Combined Heat and Power Plant were progressing well.
He expects that the three parties will sign a contract later in the spring, with construction on the network of pipes needed to transport the heat beginning later in the year. Cllr Hargrove is confident that the project will be operational and heating Southwark homes by the winter of 2013.