One of the primary ambitions for the 2012 London Olympic Games was that it should have a low impact on the environment and contribute to the Olympic Development Authority’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. For ENGIE this ambition became a key driver for the creation of a £100m low carbon district energy scheme which served the Olympic venues and other facilities during the Games, and continues to service built assets in the area.
The Stratford site includes two energy centres and a network of over 11 miles of pipe work which control a small fleet of biomass and gas boilers, combined heat and power plants and water storage units. Biomass provides steady base load power (i.e. power that can always meet minimum demand) needed throughout the day by burning waste wood sourced regionally from UK landscapers at 650 degrees, while to meet energy demand over peak demand periods the energy can be stored in hot water tanks which are topped up using combined and heat and power boilers which run on gas.
As a result the Olympic Park is able to generate 75% of its own energy with carbon emissions 20% lower than conventional systems, while using smart technology to keep costs low. ENGIE also provides 24 services across the park, taking in everything from facilities management, horticultural and waterways management (via a community interest company) to security and event management, and sales and marketing at the Orbit.
The advantage of ENGIE’s “decentralised” energy model (i.e. energy generated off the main grid) compared to traditional systems is in the flexibility to build bespoke solutions which directly meet local needs. The company is one of the leaders in low carbon decentralised ‘district’ energy (a system for distributing heat generated in a centralized location for residential and commercial heating), a trend which seeks to disrupt the traditional energy supply model. Instead of focusing on large, expensive power plants based far from the customers it supplies, district energy starts with the customer and builds ‘decentralised’ energy systems to fit.
The network’s reach also extends to Stratford’s Westfield shopping centre and the burgeoning commercial developments beginning to take shape nearby. Beyond London ENGIE already operates decentralised energy supply schemes across several UK cities and councils, including Southampton, Birmingham and Coventry. Collectively they save nearly 80,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.