‘Poo power’ could fuel 2,000 London homes under new project

Excess heat recovered from the sewage treatment process could be used to power more than 2,000 homes in London.

A new partnership between Thames Water and Kingston Council, dubbed the ‘poo power’ scheme, is the first of its kind in England and has the potential to provide clean, green heating to new homes as part of the regeneration of Kingston’s Cambridge Road Estate.

Under the plans, heat recovered from the final effluent of the sewage treatment process at Hogsmill will be captured before water is returned to the river, concentrated, and supplied to local buildings from a state-of-the-art energy centre to be built on the site.

If successful, up to 7 GWh of low carbon heat per year could be supplied via a sealed pipe network to the district heating system at the new Cambridge Road Estate. The aim will then be to expand the network to include public and commercial buildings in Kingston town centre.

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water’s CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Kingston Council, offering low carbon energy to a new housing development near to our works.

“Renewable heat from our sewer network is a fantastic resource, so it’s vital that we are a leading player in the energy transition and unlock the full potential of ‘poo power’.”

The renewable heat project at Hogsmill is estimated to save 105 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over 30 years – the equivalent of 157,000 return flights from London to New York – and is the single largest reduction scheme in Kingston.

Future phases of the district heat network are planned to save additional emissions and help Kingston Council achieve its target of being carbon neutral by 2038.

“This is ground-breaking,” said Councillor Caroline Kerr, leader of Kingston Council. “It’s a first for England and shows we are serious about reducing carbon in the borough.

“This is a real opportunity to be bold and ambitious for future generations. It’s great to be working alongside Thames Water to make waste into clean energy.

“The regeneration of Kingston’s largest council estate, Cambridge Road Estate, is a fantastic opportunity to make new homes in Kingston among the greenest in the country. We will continue to work alongside a range of partners to make green, sustainable energy a reality for Kingston.”

The project is expected to be a model for similar schemes elsewhere in the UK, reducing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions.

The UK Government and Greater London Authority have funded feasibility studies and design work for the project over the last two years and an application has been made to the government for capital funding. The result will be formally announced this month.

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