Kings Cross ‘Heatropolis’ to lay foundations for widescale district heating

May, 2024

One of London’s most high-profile regeneration zones is set to play a key role in decarbonising heat across the UK.

UK Power Networks’ trailblazing Heatropolis project aims to create a blueprint, showing how the decarbonisation of the King’s Cross heat network could scale up for millions of buildings across the country. It is being carried out in collaboration with energy management company Passiv and district energy network experts Metropolitan.

‘Heat networks’ use a single supply source to distribute heating to multiple buildings, and could make up over 18% of the UK’s heating supply by 2050. The King’s Cross heat network currently delivers heat and power to over 40 commercial buildings, including Google and Nike’s UK headquarters, a university and more than 2,400 residential units.

Supported by Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund, Heatropolis will uncover the potential options heat networks nationwide can take to decarbonise efficiently while delivering reliable heating.

The smart management of these networks is set to become an increasingly important asset in the wider energy system. The ability to shift the electric heating load over the course of the day, could reduce both peak demand and the potential need for network infrastructure upgrades.

In the project’s initial discovery phase, Heatropolis began to quantify how smarter low-carbon heat networks can use design innovations and innovative control strategies to maximise the use of existing network capacity.

Alongside the potential carbon savings of 1500 tonnes of CO2, a better understanding of how efficient green heat networks can operate flexibly could also help save customers as much as £35 million in total, by 2050.

In the next phase, the project will explore what commercial methods will be needed to help unlock this value and test the feasibility of new technologies.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to decarbonising heat. Understanding the best approaches to decarbonising heat networks is about creating a series of blueprints that can be implemented on a national scale. Millions of people could benefit from the efficient decarbonisation of heat networks. We want to make sure these networks have every possible opportunity to decarbonise district heating.
Ian Cameron, Director of Customer Service and Innovation at UK Power Networks

Andrew White, Managing Director at Metropolitan, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding for the next stage of this project, which is essential in understanding how heat networks can help reduce grid reinforcement and provide valuable flexibility services whilst lowering carbon emissions from heating homes and businesses.”

Passiv UK is excited to collaborate with UK Power Networks and Metropolitan to explore the role that smart control technologies can provide to heat networks in offering more demand flexibility and reducing the need for costly electricity network reinforcement.
Ian Rose, Sales and Strategy Director at Passiv UK