SSE Energy Solutions and National Grid are to run a trial looking at generating hot water and space heating using waste heat from electricity transformers.
It’s estimated that this heat recovery project will initially reduce heat network carbon emissions by over 40% compared to traditional gas-led systems, with the technology offering a route to net zero when applied to transformers served by 100% renewable electricity.
It is currently undergoing a proof-of-concept trial at National Grid’s Deeside Centre for Innovation, with this being the first facility in Europe where assets associated with electricity networks can be tested off-grid.
When the solution is fully tested, it can be used at any of National Grid’s 350 substations, providing heat to local homes and businesses.
Currently, transformers generate large volumes of heat as a by-product which is vented directly into the atmosphere. However, with transformers being located where people live, work and consume energy, "they have the potential to be incredibly valuable community assets if we apply a bit of clever thinking," said Nathan Sanders, managing director at SSE Energy Solutions.
The company is a founder member of the Heat Networks Industry Council, an industry-wide group collaborating with the government to unlock the potential of zero carbon heat networks and provide around 20% of the UK’s heat by 2050.
It is also involved in the £2 million Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure Project, which launched in 2019 with an intention of bringing together heat, electric vehicles (EVs) and energy. This included plans to use unwanted waste for electricity and heat in the form of steam, with the potential for over 16MWth to be sent to heat local businesses and homes.