Viking Energy Network is Operational

The ground-breaking Viking Energy Network scheme in South Tyneside is up and running with the first phase of connected buildings being fed from the network.

The Viking Energy Network in Jarrow is now operational with the first phase of connected buildings being fed from the network. The multi-million-pound project is a first for the UK, using heat generated from the River Tyne and converting it into energy to heat council-owned buildings in the town.

Desco designed the mechanical and electrical services for the scheme and acted as lead designer, leading on the technoeconomic modelling, feasibility, and detailed design for this innovative project.

The project uses low-cost, low-carbon energy to directly heat 14 council-owned buildings in the town connected to the network. A Water Source Heat Pump (WSHP) provides the primary heat source for the network. The WSHP extracts water from the River Tyne to feed a district energy network. The energy replaces the gas heating used to heat council-owned buildings, including Jarrow Focus Leisure Centre, three residential tower blocks, Jarrow Business Centre, and Jarrow Town Hall. The energy centre and associated network can serve further buildings in Jarrow, including sheltered housing schemes, schools, and a local hospital. Future phases could also see heat and power supplied to many other homes, offices, shops, and hotels across the town centre, with future developments in Jarrow.

A gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) will supplement the WSHP, and a photovoltaics (PV) farm on the energy centre site will also contribute to the electricity supply. A storage battery will store surplus energy and will release it later to the private network. The solar farm will provide most of the power, and the site will run close to carbon neutral in the summer months, with the CHP system providing a backup for when the solar farm cannot generate enough power.

By using the half-hourly meter readings for the council buildings, Desco modelled the daily and annual load profiles of each of the buildings and determined the optimum mix of technologies to minimise carbon emissions while satisfying the electricity and heat demand. Further requirements when modelling the concept included determining the network pipe and key plant capacity and finalising a table of key system parameters (e.g., pipe specifications, operating temperatures and pressures, flow rates, etc.).

The project has been driven by the council’s desire to reduce Jarrow’s carbon footprint following their declaration of a climate emergency in July 2019, to reduce energy costs for the council and to deliver affordable heat and power to its residents. The site has an estimated carbon saving of 1,035 tonnes per annum based on the current buildings connected, with further carbon savings forecast when more buildings are connected. The scheme will make a significant contribution to South Tyneside Council’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.