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University expands acclaimed District Energy Scheme

Arrival of Combined Heat and Power Plant

Aston has taken delivery of a huge Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine, which will help to power both the campus and Birmingham's new multi-million pound Eastside regeneration developments.

The 2MWe CHP engine is set to become the largest installed CHP engine within Birmingham’s highly acclaimed low carbon district energy scheme. Located in Aston’s newly refurbished energy centre, it will combine with Aston’s existing CHP to produce a total of 3MW of power.

In October, when fully operational, the Aston scheme will see carbon dioxide levels reduced by 4,400 tonnes a year and will provide the University with its own highly reliable source of low cost heat and electrical power. The 3MW CHP will allow even more of the University’s buildings to benefit from sustainable energy, including its new Halls of Residence which are set for completion next year.

The CHP will eventually link to other phases of Birmingham’s expanding energy network which Utilicom and the City Council are rapidly developing across the City Centre and beyond.  Aston’s commitment as a core partner of the Birmingham District Energy Scheme, will allow the scheme to expand into the wider £600m Eastside regeneration area. The CHP is already earmarked to supply sustainable decentralised low carbon energy to several new developments including the planned new Magistrates Courts at Masshouse Plaza.  

Alongside the new energy scheme, a ground breaking partnership has also been developed with the prestigious European Bio-Energy Research Institute (EBRI) to apply and incorporate its onsite research and skills in the overall Birmingham scheme. This will see an additional 1MW combined heat and power plant built at the University - a test facility which will explore a range of alternative energies including how waste products from sewage, algae, agricultural and municipal waste, and crops on marginal land, can be converted into energy for heat and electricity.  

Other CHP’s in operation in Birmingham include the Broad Street CHP which powers the International Convention Centre and other nearby City Centre buildings.

Words by Alex Earnshaw

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