A successful implementation of a district-heat joint venture ESCo which is already exceeding challenging carbon emission targets, whilst reducing bills for residents and businesses.
The heat network, designed, project-managed and operated by Metropolitan’s in-house team, continues to evolve, exploring alternative fuel sources and expansion beyond the confines of the core development.
The landmark 67-acre development at King’s Cross is one of the largest and most prestigious regeneration projects in the UK.
The completed King’s Cross development in London will comprise of 2,000 residential units and 500,000m2 of diverse commercial space, including offices, retail and educational institutions.
A major part of the project has been providing the essential utilities required for next generation living. The future-proofed district heat system delivered by Metropolitan is already supplying over 28GWh of heat each year to customers.
King’s Cross is an excellent example of a district heat joint venture, with a fully managed ESCo. The ownership of the infrastructure at King’s Cross is a long-term partnership, with Argent, the delivery partner, retaining a majority shareholding in the ESCo, and Metropolitan King’s Cross Limited (MKC) which is responsible for the delivery of de-centralised energy and the provision of professional metering and billing services to householders and commercial tenants.
The remaining share of the ESCo is owned by Metropolitan. MKC owns the plant in the energy centre; Metropolitan owns the heating and cooling networks and all the utility networks on site. Metropolitan is also responsible for negotiating and managing the connection of new buildings to the network.
Metering and billing services to all customers are provided by Metropolitan’s in-house team. Metropolitan also provides a full-time customer account manager who ensures smooth relationships between MKC and both commercial customers such as Google, and residential householders.
Delivering the best quality of service for customers has been a key priority for MKC beyond the 5% savings on fuel bills that customers enjoy. In addition to fuel savings, residential consumers at King’s Cross are protected by the scheme’s membership of The Heat Trust, an industry-led, self-regulatory initiative which recognises best practice.
The district heat system at King’s Cross is already achieving CO2 reductions in excess of 60% against baseline carbon emissions.
The Energy Centre consists of 2 x 2MVA Combined Heat and Power engines (CHP), 3 x 10MW gas boilers, 2 x 2.9MW thermal boilers and 2 x 75m2 thermal stores. The King’s Cross scheme has delivered heating generation efficiencies in excess of those planned – achieving a CHP Quality Assurance Certificate with a QI score of 116.46, 10 points above the expected level.
The district-cooling network, commissioned in 2018, serves buildings in the development north of Regent’s Canal. The capacity of the cooling system is 12.5MW.
The site for the cooling pod occupying a thin strip of land located between the T Zone Office Development and the HS1 Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) presented a number of design and construction challenges. In order to avoid pluming over the railway line and to ensure that the network delivers cooling even when the Energy Centre is working at full capacity, three different types of chiller are utilised in the system – absorption, water-cooled and air-cooled – all controlled by a sophisticated Building Management System (BMS) designed to meet the specific requirements of the cooling pod at King’s Cross.
The London Borough of Camden’s new headquarters-building is supplied by the heat network at King’s Cross. The council offices, leisure centre and library have been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM sustainability rating. A further six buildings at Kings Cross have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Excellent’ status, in part due to the integrated energy strategy that has been a key part of the master development plan. Metropolitan is currently scoping out a project to make the entire heat network ‘smart’ to optimise the generation and supply of heating. Sensors installed across the network will make it possible to control network temperatures in response to demand, thereby reducing heat losses and keeping customer tariffs as competitive as possible
At King’s Cross, Metropolitan owns seven networks on the site – heat, cooling, water, wastewater, gas, fibre and electricity. Metropolitan offered the major advantage of being able to deliver the total energy and utility infrastructure from initial design to the final connections. A single Metropolitan project manager has had the oversight and responsibility of the designs for all utilities ensuring that the implementation and management of the district heat network worked seamlessly as part of the development’s utility infrastructure.
Although the site will not be fully complete until 2022, the speed of development has been extremely rapid. The heat network served its first customers in 2011, supplying them from a temporary plant room constructed to enable the permanent energy centre to be built in parallel. The demands of the schedule meant that the energy centre, which went live in 2013, had to be built in the basement, whilst the building above was in the process of being constructed. Similarly, the district heat network connection for the Google headquarters building was built in parallel with the building construction.
“We have been working with Metropolitan since 2008 and they are an essential part of the team delivering the infrastructure at King’s Cross. They have been flexible, innovative, and always willing to work with us when plans have changed. With their help, we have been able to provide our occupiers with 21st-century infrastructure and deliver our targeted carbon savings of around 60%.”Anthony Peter, Project Director, Argent
The engineering specification for it has been particularly demanding in terms of network resilience and redundancy. District cooling was added to the network in 2018. Expansion off-site is under active consideration with the intention to incorporate new and existing buildings in the surrounding area where possible.
The pace has been relentless and is expected to remain so until the development is complete as new buildings and customers join the network and new elements and technologies are incorporated.
At King’s Cross, Metropolitan has had the opportunity to demonstrate not only its technical capabilities of design, project management, operation and maintenance but also its flexible commercial approach, adopting the most appropriate model for the project. As an investor itself, Metropolitan has a direct and long-term interest in the continued success of the district heat network at King’s Cross.