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Decentralised Energy

Decentralised Energy

The Council’s Decentralised Energy (DE) Programme aims to supply cheaper and greener heat to the borough in order to tackle fuel poverty, reduce our environmental impact, and improve our energy security.    

Decentralised Energy Strategy

In 2010 Parsons Brinkerhoff, on behalf of the Council, prepared a strategy for developing DE within Islington. The strategy identifies potential schemes that warrant closer examination through an options appraisal stage and ultimately a design phase before a viable scheme can be delivered. The strategy focuses on schemes with energy centres which use Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology to supply heat to multiple buildings via a network of underground pipes.

CHP and decentralised energy networks

The central power stations that produce most of our electricity waste up to two thirds of their energy, mostly through wasted heat. Smaller, local energy centres, using CHP technology, can generate electricity and capture the waste heat from this process to heat local buildings via a heat network. A heat network is a series of underground pipes carrying hot water between the local energy centre (where the heat is captured) and the buildings connected to the network. Generated electricity can also be supplied locally either directly through private wires or via the local distribution grid. Separate cooling networks are also possible where there is sufficient demand in the area. CHP and heat networks are mature technologies supported by UK and London policies. CHP is typically fuelled by main natural gas, but other fuels, heat sources, and conversion technologies will become increasingly important. For further information please see links below:

Planning Policy & Guidance

The Core Strategy and other Local Development Framework (LDF) documents strengthen the London Plan policies on heating, cooling and power, particularly to promote Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Combined Cooling, Heat and Power (CCHP) and Decentralised Energy (DE) networks in the borough. The Council are committed to working with partners to promote and develop decentralised energy (DE) networks, with a particular focus on areas of the borough with the greatest potential for such networks. Existing DE networks within the borough will be protected and their expansion supported. All development will be required to contribute to the development of DE networks, including by connecting to such networks where these exist within the proximity of the development.

Existing DE Networks

The London Heat Map (www.londonheatmap.org.uk) provides information on existing and potential heat demands, supplies and networks across London. The following summarises the networks relevant to Islington. 

Bunhill Heat and Power (Bunhill heat network): is located in the south of the borough. The Bunhill Energy Centre consists of a gas CHP engine and thermal store which serves heat to 7 local sites, including ~850 dwellings and two leisure centres, via insulated buried flow and return pipes. The network is due to be extended in 2016 to serve the King’s Square housing estate, see the Bunhill Phase 1 & 2 Map below. An additional energy centre will be developed to recover heat from the London Underground via a heat pump and supplied to the network. The network and energy centres are wholly owned and operated by Islington Council. For further information please  contact: BunhillHeatandPower@Islington.gov.uk

Citigen Heating & Cooling Networks: are located on the southern boundary of the Islington. The scheme serves numerous City of London buildings including the historic Guildhall, the Barbican Arts Centre, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Museum of London and London Central Markets (Smithfield) as well as other major commercial customers. CHP generation produces up to 28MW of heat and chilled water which are delivered to premises to meet their heating and air conditioning requirements via a separate heating and cooling network.

Shoreditch Heat Network (SHN): is located in Hackney, to the south east of the Islington. SHN is a combined heat and power system that will initially serve 464 dwellings across three housing estates - Wenlock Barn, Cranston and Fairbank. It is part of a borough-wide Decent Homes Programme by Hackney Homes, the Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO) for the London Borough of Hackney.

King’s Cross Heat Network: Is located in Camden, on the west boundary of Islington. As part of the Kings Cross Central Development a district heating system has been installed and will serve every building at the site. An Energy Services Company (ESCO), Metropolitan Kings Cross Limited (MKC), was created as the vehicle to design, finance, install, operate and maintain the low carbon heating system for Kings Cross Central.

Future DE Networks

The Council’s borough-wide Energy Master Plan identifies areas within the London Borough of Islington where there is a high opportunity for district heating networks to be developed or for connection to existing networks. The 2014 studies, prepared by Buro Happold, provide the latest review of these opportunities. Core Strategy, Map 3.2, presents the areas where opportunities for district heating were known at the time of its publication in 2011.

Links to all these studies and maps can be found at the bottom of this page. The following summarises the development work undertaken and planned for areas of high opportunity.

Bunhill: in the south of the borough has the most significant opportunity for district heating in Islington and this led to the 2012 launch of Bunhill Heat and Power. The 2013 Bunhill Shoreditch Study (see below, alongside the Bunhill Opportunities Map) assessed a number of viable heat clusters within this area and potential interconnection between existing local heat networks. By 2016 the Council plan to extend the Bunhill heat network north towards City Road and connect additional heat supplies. The Council plan to undertake a number of studies over 2015/16 to assess opportunities for further expanding the Bunhill heat network and local low carbon heat supplies.  

Highbury West: in the centre of the borough has a number of large heat demands from sites including the London Metropolitan University (LMU) Campus, Sobell Leisure Centre, and Harvist Estate. An area-wide plan has been developed which identified a network could be supplied from an energy centre based at Sobell Leisure Centre and/or LMU. A feasibility study has been conducted for a Sobell Leisure Centre energy centre, and the council shall be conducting a study on an LMU energy centre in 2015 to inform which option is most viable.

Caledonian Road: in the west of the borough has a number of large heat demands from sites including communally heated council housing estates and Cally Pool. An area-wide plan has been development which identified a network could be supplied from either an extension of the existing King’s Cross Heat Network (see above) or a new energy centre. An initial study was carried out in 2010 and the council shall be further assessing the viability of both options in 2015.

Archway: in the north of the borough has a number of large heat demands from sites including communally heated council housing estates, Archway Leisure Centre and surrounding town centre buildings, the Whittington Hospital estate, and pending new developments. An area-wide plan has been development which identified one or more energy centres could serve a network. A feasibility study shall be carried out in 2015 to further investigate the viability.

Other areas are being explored by the council as specific opportunities emerge through new developments and area-wide regeneration projects.

Further Information

For further information please contact:


Please note older documents: These are for reference only, as background information within the following studies has been superseded.

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