Westminster is celebrating its long-serving, low-carbon, local heat supply.
Pimlico District Heating Unit (PDHU) has been supplying affordable and sustainable energy to residents for nearly 70 years.
The PDHU was developed and built in the post-war period to help address poor air quality in Central London. It was formalised in the autumn of 1951 and is the oldest district heating scheme in the UK, as well as the largest in London.
Originally, the PDHU made use of waste heat from the nearby Battersea Power Station. The heat was pumped through a tunnel under the Thames and was distributed to the homes within the district.
As the power station has modernised, so too has the PDHU. It now produces heat using combined heat and power engines and boilers located in the ‘Pump House’ situated in Churchill Gardens. This system is a low-carbon source of heat, allowing the PDHU to produce a combination of electricity, which is utilised by the National Grid, and heat for Pimlico. The sale of the electricity to the National Grid helps offset the costs to residents, increasing the savings they make by using the scheme.
This is a more efficient manner of producing energy than can be achieved by conventional boilers and power stations.
The PDHU has a large reach with an almost 5km underground network of pipes transporting heat to over 3,250 homes, 50 commercial premises, 4 schools, and a Post Office.
District heating schemes are sustainable methods of producing and distributing energy, and the PDHU alone saves over 8,000 tonnes of carbon a year compared to traditional methods. Residents also benefit from savings as there is no requirement for a wall-boiler in properties supplied by the schemes.
Cllr David Harvey, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Services said:
“I am proud to say that here in Westminster we have the oldest district heating scheme in the UK. These schemes enable our residents to get the affordable heat they need for their homes, whilst also making a relatively small impact on the environment.
We will continue to take inspiration from schemes like the PDHU to drive us forward and continue to innovate to improve the sustainability of our city.
Our goal is to tackle the climate emergency, and become carbon neutral within the next 20 years, this is laid out in our City for All plan.”
There are lots of district heating schemes throughout the UK, as well as Europe. We may see more implemented as effective, alternative methods of providing heat and power to homes and businesses on a larger scale as we look to reduce our carbon footprint.
As always, the team at PDHU are looking to continue to innovate and we could well see developments and improvements being implemented in the future.
For now, it’s schemes such as this that are assisting the council in its goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and to create a greener and cleaner city for all.