Powering Parks: Parks in London’s Hackney could be used to generate green energy

Parks in London’s Hackney could help to produce green energy to heat nearby buildings, under the Powering Parks project.

Powering Parks aims to explore whether underground and water heat pumps could be used to generate sustainable energy, which could be used to power nearby buildings. It is a collaboration between Hackney Council, 10:10 Climate Action and energy consultants Scene, and is funded by Nesta’s Rethinking Parks programme.

Heat pumps use electricity to concentrate low temperature heat stored in the ground, or bodies of water, and pump it through pipes into buildings for heating. While 43% of residential buildings in Germany have heat pumps installed, the technology is rarely used in the UK.

Using heat pumps in parks to generate low carbon heat for surrounding buildings can help tackle climate change and generate cash for councils to re-invest locally.

Max Wakefield, Lead Campaigner at 10:10 Climate Action, said: “Powering Parks is based on a simple idea. By tapping into the hidden low-carbon heat resource in greenspaces we can address two problems at once: cutting carbon emissions, and supplementing park revenues. Heat pumps, an under-used technology in the UK, collect ambient heat stored in the ground, bodies of water, or the air and concentrate it so it can then be pumped into buildings.”

10:10 Climate Action, who is leading the Powering Parks project, is expected to announce the three sites that will be chosen as pilots shortly. Various buildings including schools, hospitals, council offices and public buildings, even a lido and homes could potentially one day benefit from this renewable energy. The heat pumps are due to be installed in 2020.

The climate action organisation were inspired to take action after discovering the Park Power project in Edinburgh, which is in the process of installing a heat pump in Saughton Park, as well as The National Trust who have also developed many heat pump projects across its estate in order to move its historic buildings off fossil fuels.

Other projects taking similar approaches, include the Owen Square Co-op project in Bristol, and a tower block project in Enfield.

The Powering Parks project aims to produce resources for other parks managers to replicate the model.

Max Wakefield added: “By developing a replicable model for tapping into heat stored in the ground – or water bodies – within parks to supply onsite or nearby buildings we can increase revenues for parks, while making an important contribution to reducing carbon. Around a third of the UK’s emissions come from heating spaces, and we only have a few decades (starting right now) to get this down to zero. Parks can be part of the solution.”

10:10 Climate Action

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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