London Underground heat warms homes

September 17, 2020


Bunhill 2 Energy Centre

The Bunhill 2 Energy Centre

Waste heat from the London Underground network is being captured in a new energy centre to heat 1350 homes, a school and two recreational centres. The Bunhill 2 Energy Centre is described as the first of its kind in the world and is the result of considerable public and private sector collaboration. 

Heat is generated by trains’ electric motors and brakes, with a small additional amount from station equipment and customers. Reusing this heat reduces greenhouse gas emissions and heating bills for customers. An on-site combined heat and power facility also generates local electricity for the London Underground, supplementing the heat supply for distribution.  

For good reasons, projects like this capture the imagination of people. There are opportunities to reuse waste heat in most urban centres. However, the key to making these projects real is having a district heating network to distribute that heat to consumers. In this case, the energy centre has enabled the expansion of the existing Bunhill Heat and Power district heating network, launched in 2012. The UK has been investing in district heating networks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating homes.

In Canada, we have a century of investment in an electricity grid which today allows us to connect renewable energy - like solar and wind - from many sources. However, we lacke the infrastructure to reuse waste heat from different sources. Investing in district heating and cooling infrastructure would create short-term construction jobs and permanent operating jobs while advancing national climate goals – a great COVID recovery initiative.

Canadian urban centres will need this infrastructure to achieve their net zero goals.